Good gratitude and the season we are in

Decembers holidays are often an emotional challenge for me. As I move on in life the rituals are beginning to eclipse the presents and parties, but still a memory resides in me that plays the full spectrum of joy from seasons past. But what could I still need materially as a gift as in present? If you have been following this website you will know that I refer to ‘good’ as a word describing a state of body and mind that is coherently positive.  The phrase fragment I am referring to is: “Sense of Good”.  The challenge is to bring ‘good’ out of the mostly cognitive universe, or ‘head’, into a more physical experience with identifying language capable linking joy’ to a specific Sense of Good. In talking about gratitude I see the same challenge.  Good and gratitude in my universe are two words joined at the hip. For me true gratitude floats good into the real world we live in.

I believe the acknowledgement and expression of gratitude is an active extension of the Sense of Good.  Gratitude can only demonstrate its power in one’s life when it is an expression that anchors the specific Sense of Good more concretely to your community and physical environment. In addition the recipient of expressed gratitude can be any person, place, or thing, but at its center the  expressing of gratitude involves an assumption there exists an actual recipient of your gratitude.  In a workshop on gratitude people would occasionally approach and say in a slightly miffed mood “I am living a hard life’, or ‘my parent(s) were far worse than useless. Am I  supposed to be grateful for that or simply ignore reality”? The answer of course was no. Your well being can never be truly accomplished through ignorance.  A larger question offered by instructors in trauma resilience training for this plaintiff question is: “so what else is true in your life right now?”.  The search for real gratitude must spread itself into your community, history or place and that can only happen if you release the tether of grievance holding you in place long enough to conduct the search. True gratitude to be gratitude must be an organic expression and experience. I am suggesting you can’t exclusively pick that for which you are grateful from an external list, but rather the starting point for the search for gratitude is your sense of what has been good in your life. If your parents or family or community missed the mark or worse, you need to dive deeper and swim wider to find the people, places and things that held and supported you. Set aside the assumptions of the gratitude lists and reframe your life story around the positive encounters that resulted in you actually asking the question: “for what am I grateful”. In this season try opening the gifts that have remained shrouded in a gift wrap. These are the gifts you have seen but neglected, not understood and even feared. Being anchored in a healthy sum of gratitude is what this season is very much about. 

Happy Holidays

1 thought on “Good gratitude and the season we are in

  1. Bob, I found this in my draft folder where it apparently has languished since I wrote it in response to your last column during the holiday period. I am a bit more elderly than I wish to admit.

    This column resonates with me. This autumn I was hospitalized with ruptured diverticulitis/peritonitis and the experience had a profound emotional effect on me. A “poem” came to mind after discharge, followed by a mystical experience of feeling connected to everyone and everything all at once. I was overcome with gratitude for all who cared for me so diligently and lovingly. I made a tour of the hospital and doctor’s office with token gifts and written attempts at expressing my deep appreciation for their care. I’ll append the poem I included in my Christmas greetings to friends:

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