Every year I attend an event calls "Dranksgiving." What started as a few friends getting together to enjoy the liberation and libation that came with being a college student has turned into an almost decade long tradition centered around gratitude. While we enjoy watching college football, drinking cider out of a crockpot, and laughing until our jaws hurt, the hallmark moment of the weekend occurs right before we eat.
Whoever feels compelled will gather the attention of the group and start the tradition of "Dranks for Thanks." One by one, we stand up and share what we are grateful for. Some people share heartfelt stories about life's turmoils, others simply say a thanks for those to the right and left of them. The only rule is that if you are there, you have to share. There are tears and cheers and by the end, every person's heart is full.
This year at Dranksgiving (its 8th year running), I realized that this event had become the most consistent thing in my life in the last decade. I shared this openly and others around the room nodded and smiled in silent agreement. I can say without a doubt it is the intentional practice of gratitude that draws me back to this event and those people year after year.
Research tells us that people that consistently demonstrate gratitude are more optimistic, feel better about their lives, and even visit the doctor less frequently. So why is it so much easier to complain and be frustrated than show gratitude? It depends on the person, but for most of us, it's just like working out: gratitude is a muscle we must flex. If we fail to exercise gratitude on a consistent basis, then negative influencers like narcissism, materialism, and envy might very well replace the space gratitude would otherwise fill.
Gratitude takes effort, but the rewards are tangible. I don't have to wait for a weekend getaway with 20 friends once a year to demonstrate gratitude, and neither do you.
Cultivate gratitude today, you'll be thankful you did.
Text one person you are grateful for. In your message, name something specific they have done that you are grateful for.
Does gratitude come naturally to you? If not, what is taking it's place (pessimism, materialism, general complaints....)
“In ordinary life, we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer