As I approach the US Thanksgiving holiday, my thoughts naturally turn to thankfulness.
In Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, we find this bit of conversation between Hamlet and Rosencrantz. Hamlet has just remarked that Denmark is a prison, and Rosencrantz says that he doesn’t find it so:
HAMLET: Why, then, ’tis none to you, for there is
nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it
so. To me, it is a prison.
ROSENCRANTZ: Why, then, your ambition makes it one.
’Tis too narrow for your mind.
HAMLET: O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and
count myself a king of infinite space, were it not
that I have bad dreams.
And don’t we all (have bad dreams)? How can we be thankful in spite of them? How can being thankful actually help us drive away our bad dreams?
Let’s look at the reading from How Al-Anon Works on gratitude.
- “Actively practicing gratitude is one way we can promote attitude adjustment. Instead of taking for granted the many blessings in our lives, we make a point to mentally acknowledge them until doing so becomes a habit.”
- I don’t “notice” when things are going well, but
- I dwell on the times when things went poorly.
- “Writing them down in a “gratitude list” and then reading the list to our Sponsor or sharing it with other Al-Anon members helps us realize that there are many things in our lives for which we are truly grateful. “
- A to Z gratitude list
- How I felt afterwards
- “Gratitude enables us to savor the unrecognized good that surrounds us, no matter what the circumstances. As we become accustomed to noticing the positive aspects of our lives, we begin to recognize small, subtle gifts and cloaked opportunities when they appear in our day-to-day experience.”
- My winter day story — a friend helped me to see the good that had happened that day instead of “moaning” about the bad
- I remember this story and it helps me to see the positive as well as the negative.
- “ Eventually, as we continue to practice, we actually do find something to be grateful for, even in painful or difficult situations. We replace our victim mentality with an attitude of gratitude.”
- Psych ward story.
- “Instead of feeling drained, overwhelmed, and stressed by the circumstances we encounter, we begin to feel empowered and capable of coping, even flourishing, because we have learned that our Higher Power can use every situation, every relationship, every experience, to enhance our lives and foster strength, faith, and personal growth. Thus, everyone and everything has a special gift to offer us.”
- Visiting with my aging and ailing mother.
- How I felt, how I grew.
- “We need only open our eyes to see it.”
Previous episodes and blog posts on gratitude are
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