Focusing on gratitude – not the hat

In a few weeks Americans will celebrate a holiday dedicated to the idea of being grateful, Thanksgiving.  First celebrated in 1621 and declared a national holiday in 1863, it is a time of tradition, of family, of gratitude, of celebration and of remembrance.  For me, it is a holiday that renders some of my most vivid memories.  And while 2020 will most certainly be different for all of us, we still can focus on the idea behind the holiday.

I don’t know about you, but I am tired.  Mentally, physically, and emotionally.  Just as the smoke from the devastating wildfires in California, visible from space, hover over our planet, a cloud of discourse has coated our nation and much of the world.  Health, economic and social issues have touched all of us in some way and despite our resilience, it is easy to become worn down.  And in that state, gratitude might not be the first thing to come to mind, but it might just be the answer to finding a way out of the clouds.

Several years ago, I wrote a post about my experience with a sudden heart event and how it helped me focus on why I was thankful.  I replaced the tradition of setting ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ by choosing a single word to focus on for the year.  As I shared in an earlier post, my word for 2020 is ‘grateful’.

What we focus on has a powerful impact on what we see around us.  Try this.  Enter this search term in your favorite search engine, ‘what you focus on is what you see’.  You will find a range of articles from bloggers to sources like National Geographic, Inc Magazine and Psychology Today.  All lead to a similar conclusion that what we focus our thinking on, is what often ends up in our experience.

I’ve never compiled the text from the messages on gift cards we include with packages at Anna’s Gourmet Goodies, but I am confident that most of them focus on the idea of being ‘thankful’.  Whether thanking a person for their help, a client for referring business, or an employee for a job well done, we send out gifts of gratitude almost every day.

Despite the overwhelming challenges of 2020, I am grateful for many things at Anna’s Gourmet Goodies.  We have taken every precaution we could and have avoided the virus.  And unlike so many businesses that have suffered, and sometimes forced to close through no fault of their own, we’ve grown this year.  We have developed deep and long-standing relationships with our customers, our suppliers and have added some new friends to our family of customers.  I am grateful for this and so much more, every, single, day.

One of the interesting side effects of sincere, humble gratitude is that it is beneficial for both you and for others.  For ourselves, it is hard to stay in a state of despair when you focus on gratitude.  And for others who are hurting and suffering, recognizing their plight while humbly, not boastfully, being grateful for what we have is a sign of respect.

One of my favorite stories about gratitude, or lack thereof, comes from the late Dr. Wayne Dyer.  He shared it on his audio series ‘The Power of Intention’ and probably in his writing somewhere.

‘A woman was walking down the beach with her grandson when suddenly, a large wave swept over them and carried him out to sea.  Unable to see her grandson in the water, she looked up and cried out, ‘Dear God, please return my grandson to me!’  A moment later, a second wave crashed on the beach and deposited her grandson on the sand at her feet.  She paused for a moment, looked up and said, ‘Uh, he was wearing a hat’.

If I am honest, there have been times in my life when something wonderful has happened and rather than focus on that, I’ve looked for the hat.  Maybe you have as well.

This happens rarely, but occasionally at Anna’s Gourmet Goodies.  We sent out cookies to customers not too long ago as a thank you.  One of those customers let me know that they ‘were not the right kind’.  A little poking in jest or looking for a hat – maybe a bit of both.

At Anna’s Gourmet Goodies, we have been working as never before to plan for the Holiday gift season.  We are not sure what to expect, but already have orders in the queue from customers sending out gifts, expressing their gratitude to those recipients on the list.  It is an amazing thing to be part of and whatever the remainder of the year brings, I’ll be focused on my word and making sure every package we ship includes a healthy measure of gratitude.

I don’t know how we’ll celebrate the Thanksgiving Holiday this year.  It will be different.  But we are grateful that Anna will be home with us to celebrate, be thankful and create a memory or two.  And I’ll be happy to see her, even if she is not wearing a hat.

“When you change the way you see things, the things you see will change”
-Dr. Wayne Dyer

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