Radical Gratitude

Today is Thanksgiving in the United States.  It's a day when we pause from our normal routines to eat a lot of turkey and be grateful.  Accordingly, the Internet is inundated this week with posts about gratitude.

It is not in the least coincidental that my spiritual community has just begun a 21 day gratitude process, which involves writing what we're thankful for in a gratitude journal.  It is especially meaningful for us because we've come through a lot in the last year–a conflict that split the congregation this summer, and just a couple of weeks ago, a flood that destroyed the lower level of the church.

Maybe not exactly things you think of to be grateful about.

But the kind of gratitude I'm discovering is what I call radical gratitude, and it involves saying yes to everything in your life, good and bad.  It involves realizing that everything that happens to you is designed for your own good, and saying yes to it is a lot easier than resisting it, which is usually my knee-jerk reaction.

This can get tricky, however.  You can repeat to yourself "I'm grateful for my bum knee" over and over again and not really believe it.  So over the time I've been attempting to apply gratitude to my life, I've developed a bit of a system.  Here it is.

1.  I say I'm grateful when I truly am grateful.  Like for you, my readers.  For the fact that my novel will be published on February 12. For my wonderful family.  For my amazingly talented friends, online and off.  For the fact that I am a creative person.  For the gorgeous autumn leaves on the tree in front of my daughter's house.  And so on.

2.  I bless something when I'm not overtly grateful but want to acknowledge it.  For instance, the rejection letter you got from that agent you really wanted to work with.  It's hard to honestly be grateful for such a thing.  But what you can do is bless it, which acknowledges it and leaves the door open for perhaps being grateful in the future.  And it takes away that knee-jerk resistance, as in, "No! Why is this happening to me!"  Remember: what you resist, persists. 

And that's it.  That's really all there is to it.  Radical Gratitude.  It's the easiest–and the hardest–thing to do in the world.

What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving?  I'd love to read about it in the comments.

18 Responses to Radical Gratitude

  1. J.D. 11/22/2012 at 05:38 #

    That my family is well. For the “friends” I love. For all the things God has given us that make the world such a wonderful place.

  2. Charlotte Dixon 11/22/2012 at 07:03 #

    Thanks, J.D.  I'm grateful that you keep coming back to my blog.  Have a great Thanksgiving.

  3. Marlene Sanders 11/22/2012 at 12:57 #

    Charlotte. I’m thankful for you! So grateful you agreed to be my writing mentor. I’m so grateful for your way of critique and correction. I am Grateful that we had such fun this fall in Portland! Happy Thanksgiving!

  4. Charlotte Dixon 11/22/2012 at 14:09 #

    And I am so grateful for you, Marlene! Thanks for commenting 

  5. Karen Phillips 11/23/2012 at 05:37 #

    Charlotte, I love the idea of keeping a graditude journal. I want to start it as a daily thing for myself. I believe I’ll find one of those beautiful journals to write in and save all my other stuff (crap, complaints, and creativities) for the spirals. Graditude is a holy gift. I am grateful for your blog today and the things your revealed about your church. It made me think of what happens after a huge storm or tragedy of some kind and people come out to help with the aftermath. I am grateful for reconcilliation with family member this year. I am grateful for my husband, his job that lets me stay home and write, my friends in my writer’s group, for the Loft, and my efforts at writing out from under a barrel now. I hope your Thanksgiving Weekend is so great! Looking forward to next semester.

  6. Charlotte Dixon 11/23/2012 at 07:50 #

    Karen, what a wonderful list of things to be grateful for!  And I highly recommend the gratitude journal.  I want to keep doing it after the 21 days are over.  I love that you called it a "holy gift."  That's perfect.  Hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

  7. Barbara Shallue 11/23/2012 at 08:55 #

    I’ve been trying to do the same thing, to give thanks for when things seem to go wrong in faith that it’s somehow part of God’s plan. It’s not always easy, that’s for sure. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, Charlotte!!

  8. Charlotte Dixon 11/23/2012 at 09:00 #

    And you are the queen of gratitude, with your Treats of the Week, Barbara!  You're an inspiration.

  9. Stewart M 11/23/2012 at 14:40 #

    Hi there – too many things to list – especially when you have recovered from an “illness between the ears” if you take my meaning.

    Glad you liked my “wordy blog – one day I hope to be able to publish it in a form other than a blog – one day!

    Cheers – Stewart M – Melbourne

  10. Charlotte Dixon 11/23/2012 at 16:17 #

    Thanks, Stewart!  Glad you have a lot to be grateful for and thanks for coming by.

  11. Sandra / Always Well Within 11/25/2012 at 16:55 #

    I love this idea of radical gratitude and that’s what I’m working toward too! Thanks for sharing your system cause we don’t want fake gratitude!

  12. Charlotte Dixon 11/25/2012 at 19:46 #

    You're so right-we don't want to fake gratitude! Thanks for commenting, Sandra!

  13. Suzanne C. Robertson 11/26/2012 at 09:04 #

    Words of wisdom, Charlotte, and a nice perspective. I am grateful for so much and you are near the top of the list. You jump-started my writing and hope about it, and believed in me when I did not. Thank you.

  14. Charlotte Dixon 11/26/2012 at 09:29 #

    Oh, Suzanne, thank you for this!  It makes me feel so good to hear that from you.  I continue to be a great believer in  your work and I look forward to reading that book you're working on!

  15. Peterdmallett.wordpress.com 11/26/2012 at 13:05 #

    Sweet simple and grateful. Well said.

  16. Anne Wayman 11/26/2012 at 13:06 #

    Isn’t gratitude fun?!

  17. Charlotte Dixon 11/26/2012 at 14:26 #

    Thanks, Peter.  I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

  18. Charlotte Dixon 11/26/2012 at 14:30 #

    Your comment made me laugh with delight!  Gratitude is fun!

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