For months now, years even, we have been inundated with constant political rhetoric and hyperbole from our nation’s capital. For many this has created a heightened state of anxiety. The strain is beginning to show and many now refuse to engage in political discourse. Hopefully, with this most recent election behind us that anxiety will lessen.
While freedom of speech is our most favorite constitutional amendment (obviously), we believe it is time to put the political rhetoric down and stand up as adults. We can have differing opinions while demonstrating respect. We do not have to “uninvite” ourselves to Thanksgiving dinner out of fear of what the conversation may turn to. That is just silly and, in fact, lets fear take root, which is never healthy. Instead of letting fear get a grip on you, instead of practicing your rights as loudly and disruptively as possible, we suggest practicing something else -gratitude.
We can all do with a little more gratitude in our lives. What is gratitude? According to the dictionary, gratitude is the “quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” That sounds simple enough, but, in fact, it is something you need to practice every day.
When did we stop being grateful? As kids we had nothing but gratitude. Every toy we received, every chance to spend time with a parent, every walk in the woods or sail out on the Sound was awesome. We may not have identified it as gratitude, but that is what it was. As we grew to working adults and establishing careers, we lost some of that “awesomeness.” For some of us, we may have allowed a disillusioned adult perspective of life to take hold. In our rush to continually build the ideal vision of our lives we missed the opportunity to be thankful for what we have accumulated along the way.
The practice of gratitude can be found in the origins of every major religion and even indigenous tribes as far apart as Australian Aborigines and the American Indians. Clearly the practice of gratitude is important if it was encouraged and developed throughout the world when there was no common messenger and no communication capable of delivering such a message. Gratitude is what allowed communities to develop and grow and thrive before there was the rule of law. As communities became more complex, laws were a necessity, but gratitude remained an integral part, even today.
Go to any church or synagogue in town when they hold a service and listen closely, really closely, and you will hear words of gratitude being spoken, preached and prayed. We need to do a better job of hearing that message and incorporating it into our daily lives. Yes, this election was unlike any we have previously seen, but it is over, and let us be grateful for that. Let’s dial back the ongoing rhetoric, and for those unhappy with this year’s results, be grateful that in four years you will have the opportunity to affect change again. Let us change intolerance into gratitude, for we live in the greatest community, in the greatest country. Let us show gratitude for all that our community has to offer. Let us really show it.
We challenge you to live the definition of gratitude every day; be thankful, show appreciation, and return kindness. You will be surprised. The more you practice gratitude the more gratitude will befall you, and that would not be a bad thing, would it? It may be too much to wish for, but wouldn’t it be “awesome” if enough of us lived this way, with fewer ill manners in the supermarket, fewer honking horns, or fewer nasty looks because of whatever bumper sticker you have on your car? It would certainly lessen people’s anxiety levels and we would be grateful for that.
As Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”