Thanksgiving is the one day out of the year where we survey our lives to uncover what we ought to be grateful for. Some of us have a generic list. Others might like to come up with unique reasons to count their blessings. But if we’re all honest with ourselves, some days it’s hard to see the silver lining, and that’s okay. So as long as we rise from struggle and understand how gratitude can make us better.
Gratitude, in many cases, has become overly used. It truly has become the go-to phrase whenever anyone is upset. There’s nothing worse than clichéd responses to personal challenges, trauma, and real difficulties we face. It’s easy for someone else sitting where you’d like to be in life and is not in your shoes to tell you to “just get over it” and to “be grateful for what you have.” If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard someone say that, I’d be a billionaire.
Nonetheless, if you tried to see the word gratitude unfiltered and without personal bias of just how generic and overly used it sounds, it can really be a powerful opportunity to discover the strength of the result, which is self-awareness and humility. As writers, we’re always looking to develop characters into 3-dimensional, living beings. But as characters existing in our own story, gratitude can be a character-building tool. Struggle can be good for us. Struggle can be our best teacher because adversity shows us how to keep getting up every time we fall into despair and exposes the positive things in our lives that are going well. The opposite of gratitude is the constant chase for more. There’s a difference between wanting to push ourselves to succeed and feeling entitled. When more is always what we need, it’s easy to become ungrateful and entitled. Entitled, as a word, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It simply means the amount to which someone has a right. However, it also depicts people who feel they’re owed something.
Big egos are a result of a lack of self-awareness in confusing arrogance with confidence.
Self-awareness is the first step toward gratitude. Gratitude doesn’t mean giving up and settling for so-so. Gratitude doesn’t mean putting 50% effort instead of 100% into all that you do. Gratitude doesn’t mean laziness, lack of tenacity, or drive to succeed. Gratitude is ambition, and humility is strength. Gratitude is not just winning but knowing how to win. It’s winning in life with a sense of humility, graciousness, and good sportsmanship. When we’re grateful, we expand our emotional intelligence, situational awareness, and empathy. We drop our egos and our will to feel like we’re owed something. We also stop feeling the need to one-up everyone or prove who we are.
As a writer who aspires to be published, I’ve learned that nothing about the writing and publishing path is easy. Nothing about any art is simple. When you want something bad enough, it’s often the arduous path and not the one without potholes. But we should celebrate our small milestones. For some of us that have kids or juggle life and writing time, a small word count some days are better than nothing. We should rejoice over little victories instead of focusing on lack, what we don’t have, and where we’re currently not. We ought to remind ourselves of how far we’ve come. We’re sharpening our skills and becoming better at our craft with dedicated time, hard-earned sweat, and a tenacious spirit.
The Bottom Line
Gratitude is more than cherishing things and saying generic lists out loud. It’s feeling it deeply on a soul level. It is behaving kindly towards others, treating people the way you would want to be treated. It’s respecting someone’s time and, most of all, respecting ourselves. Gratitude is loving yourself enough to know your worth and not settle for less. When you’re grateful for the little things and not just the big things in your life, you’re no longer constantly living in the lack mindset. You’re more self-aware, and the natural byproduct is humility. It’s not needing to brag or to toot your own horn. It’s a state of being and owning who you are.
Humility isn’t making yourself small. Humility isn’t diminishing your accomplishments. When you’re grateful and humble, you’re a winner. You’re big. But you’re big without having to prove it to anyone else. That’s the difference.