An attitude of gratitude


It's easy to forget but so very important. Whatever we have is a gift. We're guaranteed nothing in this world. Sometimes we work hard and get nowhere, other times good fortune falls in our lap.

The Stoics are well known for this attitude of gratitude and the freedom from judging what happens to us. “Convince yourself that everything is the gift of the gods,” was how Marcus Aurelius put it, “that things are good and always will be.” In Latin it's "amor fati", that is, love fate. More than just begrudgingly accepting what happens as inevitable we're encouraged to be thankful for every incident of our existence. Who hasn't had the experience of something "bad" happening to us that eventually turns out to be one of the better things in our lives?

From every 12 step program on the planet we hear "things don't happen to me, they just happen". Such a relief!  To know that the fates are not conspiring against us, the gods aren't out to get us and the universe, in the end, doesn't really care about us at all. 

So what do we think about on this special day of Thanksgiving? Try focusing on others. Do something nice for your family and loved ones, offer a friend some help, have a kind word for a stranger. I'm not talking about "random acts of kindness", to the contrary, I'm saying make them purposeful, meaningful, thoughtful acts of kindness. Really see what's going on around you and make a change in the world. Doesn't have to change the whole world, let's not get ahead of ourselves, but a simple, considered action to improve your little corner the cosmos.

Keep yourself tuned in to the kindnesses given you by others, too. Seneca the Younger said: "There is as much greatness of mind in acknowledging a good turn as in doing it".  Be aware, stay conscious of what's going on, don't get all wrapped up in the mundane. 

Stay grateful, have a great holiday.