Call me a hater, but I am over gratitude. And believe it or not, I think it was my transition from Wall Street to the Wellness world that has caused the series of winces, eye rolls and sighs that happen every time I see the word #-ed or scribbled across a photo of someone making a heart shape with their hands. What is it about ‘gratitude,’ the word, despite my total accordance with its essence, that has made us immune to giving thanks? And why must we overcome it?
Gratitude stems from the roots, grat, which means pleasing, and gratis, which means free. In the 1550s it was used to describe things pleasing to the mind. Today we know that practicing gratitude makes you happier. In highlighting everything that is good, you have less time, energy and mere mental space to focus on what is bad and what went wrong. In doing so, you innately shift your internal perspective, thus becoming happier, more energetic, and less stressed almost automatically.
Your brain works like a DVR (or for those of us over 35, VCR). It records everything you think, say, see, experience, and perceive. If you re record the good, positive elements — i.e. what you are grateful for — you can replay that video whenever you want, thus lifting your spirits internally and externally. Gratitude simply requires reflecting on everything good around you and giving thanks for it.
Thanks. This I, like you, may find to be far more palpable, tangible, and real that the often overused, ‘gratitude.’ Thanks is what we need to have, what we need to share, what we must imbibe.
More specifically, we must give thanks for what we have been given.
Thanks to our body. Our muscles. Our organs. Our skin. Our mind. Our thoughts. Our health. Our job. Our freedom. Our friends. Our family. Our food. Our teachers. Our mentors. Our ability to hear music. Our ability to breathe. Our ability to see. Our ability to move. Our ability to think. The roof over our heads. The gadgets in front of us. Our planet. Thanks to the life we have been given to live.
Even on the most dreadful of days you can likely give thanks for at least one, if not all, of these. But it can be so easy to forget what we have been given, and focus, instead, on what we do not have, and then swiftly cover that up with a translucent veil of ‘gratitude.’
So today I ask you to take a step back, take a breath, and go one step deeper, but also one step simpler, from gratitude to thanks. Cast aside what you do not have and instead take a moment to simply take a deep breath and reflect on everything you do have. That’s real thanks.
By focusing you on the positive, thanks gives you the fuel to take on the present. It sustains who you are, and in doing so allows you to chase who you want to be. Which is a dream we all should give thanks for.
With love, thanks and #gratitude.
Originally published at medium.com