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A New Lens on Gratitude

Every 365 days, right around the second or third week of November, gratitude becomes the thing that’s on many people’s minds in the United States. The reflection period of the holidays starts to kick in, and we humans begin our annual practice of stating both internally and externally what we’re grateful for – a brief few days or weeks of intentional focus on family, friends, and the things that we cherish. Fast forward to the beginning of January and this time of gratitude has passed and we’re on to bigger and better goals and ambitions, with gratitude likely not showing up again in any sort of impactful way until the following November. Gratitude thus, is an event, whether we recognize it as that or not.

Is it possible we’ve been viewing gratitude incorrectly?

Gratitude, if we’re honest with ourselves, should really function more like a human trait than an event. Much like I am a male, I am also grateful. Much like I have brown hair, I am also grateful. Much like I am right handed, I am also grateful. Because the truth of the matter is that gratitude is always there – we simply don’t choose to recognize it most of the time.

Let’s take a basic scenario. The fact that I’m writing this post on a computer insinuates that I have countless layers to be grateful for. It means that I have the financial means to own a computer. It means that I have electricity and a roof over my head to use it. It means that my hunger needs must be met, otherwise I would be spending my time trying to find food. And it means that I have the luxury of leisure to be able to put these thoughts on paper. Anyone reading this post can sing a similar tune.

Gratitude is built into everything above, and those simple truths stated in the previous paragraph mean that I have gratitude in spades. It is a trait, hardwired into the DNA of my life.

When gratitude is viewed as an event, as it so often is this time of year, it unconsciously allows us to bucket our gratitude into a handful of weeks each year. In reality, gratitude can and should be a trait that’s built into everything. We go about our days interacting with people, contemplating various thoughts, pursuing this or that goal. Gratitude is hardwired into all of this – whether we choose to recognize it or not is on us.

Traits are truths. Gratitude is a trait, and therefore truth. As much as I love this time of year, we don’t need a holiday to take the time and recognize the gratitude hardwired into our lives. If we just open our eyes, it’s there, no matter the month and no matter the situation. Much like we have eyes to read this post, so too do we have eyes to view our own gratitude.

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