Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thanksgiving Series #2: Attitude of Gratitude

On my way to my normal writing haunt - the Starbucks at Market Street in The Woodlands - I passed a shop specializing in athletic clothing, specifically yoga apparel.  Their marketing machinery targeted Thanksgiving shoppers with the clever slogan “Attitude of Gratitude.”  There was nothing else attached to the statement, no branding, no clothing design, no advertising photographs of yogis clothed in trendy garb; it was simply a statement of intention designed to catch the eye of random shoppers.  While I have not patronized their shop, I have gratuitously stolen their message, and am thankful for their generosity.
I have addressed the idea of existing within in a place of mental expectancy on a previous blog.  Quickly summing up this idea, I encouraged people to go about their lives with the thought that what they needed would be provided to them.  Having an attitude of gratitude is the same idea taken one step further.  Having an attitude of gratitude is an affirmation: what you are expecting has already been delivered, and you are thankful in advance.
The subdued pessimist in me always bristles at this idea.  I know it sounds like dictating to the universe the terms by which we live; for some people this is a world-rocking concept, it was to me when I first encountered it.  I understand and empathize.  There are still times when I struggle with the idea of expectation and having an attitude of gratitude.  Battling the inner pessimist can really be a struggle.
The first kind of struggle stems from the idea that we are not good enough to receive blessings from the universe.  Our self confidence tells us not to expect anything at all; so we don’t.  We feel this way due to previous expectations not being met.  Instead of being patient and positive, we choose to swim in this pool of disappointment.  We move about our existence dressed in the garments of pessimism, wearing our history around our necks like a yoke.  Our only expectation is that things will continue as they always have and we will be granted nothing.  Ironically, people in this mental position are constantly being given exactly what they are asking for - disappointment.
The second kind of struggle is fear of expectation.  We don’t feel that we are significant enough to receive blessings.  Our fear that we fill too small a role in the fabric of the universe forces us into a weak position.  Fear tells us we can’t have desires, and if we do, they will be unfulfilled.  If we were ever to step out of the hole in which we exist, the weight of those above us would come crashing down, causing us more pain than the simple fear we already feel.
Overcoming both of these mental states is vital to having a healthy, positive life.  Carrying on an existence based on pessimism only leads to negativity; people in this place continue a seemingly unbreakable cycle of unfortunate events, populating their lives with people encountering the same struggles as they.  Surrounding yourself with negativity will only breed one thing - more negativity.  The cycle will continue.
Stepping beyond fears and past disappointments and adopting an attitude of gratitude can change your life for good.  Thank the universe for what you need or what you want.  If it doesn’t come tomorrow, don’t be disappointed, instead, revise your timeline.  Continue the attitude of expectancy and know it will occur.  
Christian friends of mine have disagreed with me regarding this particular concept - they have felt that the attitude of expectancy conflicted with the idea that God is the only being to disperse his blessings, and they are not available upon request.  I had similar reservations when I first attempted to order my life around this concept.  I don’t frequently quote scripture to support my thoughts, but I think one passage in particular supports it very well.  In Mathew 7:7-11, the New Testament tells us:
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
   “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
Is this nothing more than an attitude of expectancy?  The scripture does not say “only those deserving will receive,” it states very clearly “everyone who asks receives.”  Why shouldn’t this be you?  Why shouldn’t you be allowed to live an existence that provides? Knowing that you are eligible to receive that which you ask, why should you not already be thankful?  
I think this Thanksgiving season is an excellent time to turn your world around.  Break the old cycle in which you are stuck and move in the direction your life should head.  Don’t be afraid to ask - if you are afraid, know that even so your wishes are constantly granted and the universe will continue to gift you with nothing.  Don’t allow yourself to be stuck in pessimism, expecting only disappointment when it comes to your desires - your wish will be granted every time.
Instead of these lackluster options, consider a positive existence.  Surround yourself with positive people.  Know that the universe will provide; be thankful for everything it gives you, before and after the fact.  Know that it’s gifts are limitless and available to everyone.  Take a step in the right direction and move forward with an Attitude of Gratitude.

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