With the Thanksgiving holiday just around the corner, we turn our focus to being thankful. This time of year can give us that warm, cozy feeling when we spend time feeling thankful for the things in our lives. The Oxford Dictionary defines the word thankful as “pleased and relieved.” Both of those are great feelings. Everyone wants to feel pleased and relieved. While being thankful is certainly important, it’s important to remember thankfulness is a feeling… and feelings fade.

The Oxford Dictionary defines the word grateful as “showing an appreciation of kindness.” This is where the difference lies; being thankful is a feeling, and being grateful is an action.

We look around the Thanksgiving dinner table surrounded by family, friends, and food.  We experience that warm, cozy feeling that comes with a holiday gathering at that moment in time.  We may feel thankful for the people in our lives and happy that everyone is well since the last gathering. We are thankful.  However, gratitude is a much deeper state of being, where you feel a sense of appreciation that comes from deep within. You feel at peace and appreciate that state of affairs deep within. The feeling of calm these thoughts and emotions bring to mind is what we find fulfills us most.

Gratitude is more than just the feeling of thankfulness. Being thankful is the first step, and we have to have that initial feeling to build upon. We build upon it by redirecting our focus into making gratefulness an intrinsic part of our lives 365 days a year. Gratitude requires us to stay alert of the role of others in our lives. This is different from the fleeting nature of the act of a mere ‘thank you’ or feeling thankful one day of the year. Through gratitude, we get to make sense of our lives and learn to credit our loved ones with the appreciation they deserve.

The key is keeping gratitude at the forefront of our lives. It’s not just thinking about how thankful we are to have all that we have. It’s about living out that gratitude through the simple things we do every day. Gratitude manifests love, devotion, and commitment towards those who mean the most to us. It encompasses shared experiences, shared love, which keeps us happy and helps us understand how connected we are to others.

Gratitude takes practice; just like anything else we want to improve. It might feel silly or futile to remind yourself to be grateful constantly, but when you do it consistently, you’ll start to see that those grateful feelings come more and more naturally and frequently.  As we begin to close out another year, and look ahead to the next, make a point of operating from a consistent place of gratitude.  I would venture to say you will begin to see a shift toward a happier and more successful life.