Radical Gratitude: A Place for The World at Your Thanksgiving Table

Posted on Nov 10, 2023

Place setting at Thanksgiving table

“Live in the space of radical gratitude.”

—Oprah Winfrey

November ushers in a season of reflection, a time in the year when the idea of gratitude takes center stage. It's easy to appreciate the good things in life, the moments that bring joy and fulfillment. Yet, true transformation often emerges from the challenges we face, the setbacks that test our resilience.

This year, at this season of Thanksgiving, we are called to do more. We are called to be radical with our gratitude. This year we are called to cultivate a more profound appreciation that extends beyond personal blessings and wraps its arms around the world.

Embracing Transformation Through Our Difficulties

Gratitude isn't just reserved for the good times; it's a powerful force that turns challenges into opportunities for growth. The difficulties we encounter, the obstacles that seem insurmountable all have the potential to transform us when met with a mindset of gratitude. Embracing the hard things can lead to personal and creative evolution.

Living in a World of Contrasts

This modern era bombards us with images of global yet deeply personal atrocities, creating a stark contrast between our lives and the suffering of others. Technology exposes us to pain we will probably never experience firsthand. How can we navigate the global landscape, maintaining a genuine sense of gratitude without desensitizing ourselves to the suffering of others? How can we keep our hearts open and filled with compassion amidst such painful contrasts?

Gratitude without Guilt

Without question, these are difficult times. We live in a world where unspeakable suffering must coexist with our personal blessings. We hold horrific images in the palms of our hands, the devastation of war(s), the desperation of hundreds of thousands displaced by one crisis after the next. How can we reconcile our own abundance with the stark realities faced by so many others? Gratitude and compassion intersect. So how can these two powerful emotions can coexist and motivate us to make a positive impact on the world?

Gratitude that Gives Back

What are you creating in response to the impact of all this on you? Gratitude is a powerful creative force, and its impact is amplified  when it is shared. Explore ways to give back, to channel the gratitude you feel into actions that contribute something beautiful or good into the stream of life. Whether you're making music, building a business or leading a community movement,  your creative vision can be a catalyst for a broader, more inclusive sense of gratitude.

Strategies for Gratitude in Gut-Wrenching Times

In the face of such gut-wrenching times, it's crucial to have strategies for cultivating your own gratitude. From daily practices to mindset shifts, you can empower yourself to foster the creative force of gratitude even in the midst of terrible adversity. Here are six practices you can use today:

  1. Engage in Mindful Reflection and Journaling: Set aside time at the end of the day for mindful reflection. Journal about moments you're grateful for, even in the face of challenges. This simple practice makes you aware of the good and fosters a sense of appreciation for life every day.
  2. Cultivate a Growth Mindset: Shift your mindset to view setbacks and challenges as opportunities for growth. See difficulties as chances to learn, adapt, and evolve. By reframing your own adversity, you can find strength in the gratitude and resilience you develop through challenging times.
  3. Establish A Digital Detox: In today's hyper-connected world, it’s crucial to set boundaries with your digital devices. Allow for periods of "digital detox" to create a balance between staying informed and protecting your mental well-being. Cultivate gratitude by focusing on the positive aspects of life.
  4. Practice Empathy and Compassion: Actively engage with the stories and experiences of others, especially those who see the world differently. Listening as much as you speak will help you understand the struggles faced by people you meet and those you may never meet. The empathy you develop for others can bring you a more profound appreciation for your own life.
  5. Build Community and Connection: Connection is essential for human life. Share your struggles and triumphs with friends, family, or like-minded communities. Building a support network fosters a sense of belonging, reminding you that you are not alone in facing the complexities of the world.
  6. Turn Gratitude into Creative Action: Translate your gratitude into meaningful action. As creatives, we are uniquely positioned to transform the darkest aspects of life into works of beauty and art. But we have to do our work to keep our hearts open, to allow the world to pass through us and continue to hold it up to the light.

“This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.”  

– Leonard Bernstein

Renowned composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein made this statement on November 25, 1963, days after the assassination of American President John F. Kennedy. Bernstein chose these words to open a nationally televised concert with the New York Philharmonic. They expressed his deep belief in the healing power of music and art during times of great darkness.

As we (Americans) gather around our Thanksgiving tables this year, let's set a place for the world there. You can extend your gratitude beyond your personal blessings and embrace a radical form of thankfulness—one that acknowledges both the beauty and pain in the world. As creative visionaries, our capacity for gratitude becomes a transformative force, shaping not only our individual journeys but also influencing the world we live in. This November, let radical gratitude be the guiding light that inspires your creative work and expands your meaningful connections in the world.

And if you'd like to check out our creative community, where gratitude and compassion intersect each time we meet, join us for our monthly Virtual Yurt reflection session. Learn more here.

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