What is being thankful?

Thankful is a “conscious of benefit received” as defined by Merriam-Webster. What comes to mind when you think about that definition? What is conscious? What is benefit? What is received? How do these work together to be thankful? Let’s break it down.

There are four steps to being thankful:

  • Being Open to Receive (Received)
  • Finding The Benefit (Benefit)
  • Acknowledging The Gift (Conscious)
  • Showing The Gratitude (Thankful)

Let’s explore this further:

Being Open To Receive

First, you must receive. What is the point of being thankful if you don’t have anything to be thankful for? Are you ready to receive? Do you know how to receive with a grateful heart? Are you receiving or demanding?

There are a lot of benefits to be thankful for what you receive every day, your health, your family, life in general, but are you taking these benefits for granted or being truly grateful?

Look around you and see that you are blessed. Today, as I write this, there are thousands without homes in California because of the fires. There are millions without clean water across the world. How many homeless people do you drive pass on your way to work? You have a lot to be thankful for. Open yourself up to the good things in your life.

When you open yourself up to receive, then good things come to you. When you open yourself up to receive, those things you thought were bad, can become good things. Knowing which are good and which are bad leads to finding the benefits.

Finding The Benefit

Second, you must benefit from what was received. Why be thankful if what you received wasn’t of worth to you? If you are given something that is of no value, then you aren’t going to be thankful for it. It’s going to cause resentment and misery. BUT was what you received really of no value, or are you closed off to the benefits. You must know that you receive something and how it was beneficial to you. Ignorance doesn’t let you be thankful.

When you have opened yourself up to receive the gifts that life can bring you, you should look at those gifts and see the benefits. They may not always be apparent at first. Sometimes, it takes time to see the benefits. Open your heart and mind., Look at the bigger picture as well as the smaller details. Take the time to think on the gifts before throwing them away as no good. Does it have a benefit? Can you learn a lesson? Does it give you a different view point, a different approach, ask you to change in some way? Is there some aspect of it that helps you or someone you know? Was it a blessing in disguise? These are the harder gifts to be thankful for, but they are the most precious of all.

Acknowledging The Gift

Third, you should acknowledge the gift that was given, not only to yourself, but to others. Some may shout it to the heavens or the internet. Others may tell their spouse or significant other. Still others may tell their journal or a pet. An acknowledgment should be communicated in some fashion. Let the world know that you have received this gift. Tell them you story and how it has affected your life. Know that you will help others and lift them up with your story.

This acknowledgment is your karmic influence in the world. Karma is getting what you give and in my personal faith, the karmic debt is that you get three-fold what you send out. Sending out your acknowledgment means that your karmic influence will not only reach others but will return to you three-fold. If you are sending out positive vibes and acknowledging the gift you have received and being thankful for them, then you will receive them back three times what you sent out. That sounds awesome to me.

Showing The Gratitude

Fourth, you must show gratitude. In addition to communicating your thankfulness, you need to show that you are thankful. If you have learned a lesson, then apply it. If you have received a blessing, then bless someone else. If you have profited from this gift, then help someone else. This is essentially paying it forward.

If you can pay back the person who gave you the gift, then that is awesome, but a lot of the time, the gift you received either isn’t tangible in a way you can pay back or there isn’t a person or entity to pay back. In those cases, pay it forward. Give to a favorite charity. Help a neighbor in need. Give to a school or community foundation. Find something that speaks to you and give of your time or money. Do what works for you.

I ask myself daily what am I doing today to live a thankful life, and often my answer is not what I want it to be. I think that most people are like that. I give to charity. I work for a non-profit. I don’t think that is enough. When you get to the heart of it, you must live with yourself and if you can’t look in the mirror and say that you are thankful enough, then you need to do better. I need to do better. What is the next step? We each must decide that for ourselves.

Today is Thanksgiving as I post this. I am thankful for having a better relationship with my sister. I am thankful for having a job that I love. I am thankful for having the creative abilities that I do. I am thankful for having the most awesome best friend in the world. I am thankful for having the best kids and grandkids in the world. I am thankful that I’ll be able to go see my parents for Christmas. I miss them. What do you have to be thankful for? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy Thanksgiving!