Thanksgiving and Gratitude

For the third year now, Laraine has taken the opportunity to have her students enjoy the experience of gratitude. She teaches them about the importance of gratitude in our life and how powerful it is to bless others lives. Everyone at the school agrees the cleaning ladies have the hardest job. They spend every day of their lives cleaning the bathrooms which are not the nicest smelling. The students are given little hearts and they then write a thank you note to the women. They enjoy taping the hearts to the work room next to the bathroom. The cool thing is these hearts stay up the whole year. One student said she had come to class feeling really down but after the activity she was feeling much better and realized how good it feels to express gratitude.

We also had the chance to enjoy Thanksgiving with a big feast of traditional food and even had the chance to invite Monica (a young girl Laraine tutors) and her mom Liu Ying to join us. On top of all that, we got a visit from Jeremy. He came from the U.S. to record our audiobook, and of course to spend time with us on Thanksgiving.

Why Gratitude Can be Dangerous

Gratitude can be dangerous. Yes, you heard that correctly. Gratitude can be dangerous because it can cause movement or change in our circumstances. So if you want everything to stay the same, definitely stay away from gratitude.

Danger! Deep Water! No Romping!

It’s ironic. Take for instance the feeling of being stuck . . stuck in the same job, living in the same house, doing the same things, etc. When we talk to our inner selves about being stuck, we seldom use the word “gratitude.” Instead, we find ourselves saying words like, “mundane, ho-hum, dissatisfied, and grin-and-bear-it.”

Logic would seem to indicate a different result. If we are grateful for something, it would logically follow that we are satisfied with it, and less likely to make a change. But the opposite is actually true. In our yet-to-be published book with the working title, “Surviving by a Thread” by Chuck, Laraine, and Jeremy Chamberlain, we pay a great deal of attention to the characteristics of gratitude that help us survive and even find joy and abundance during turbulent times. The irony of gratitude is discussed in the book as follows:

Laraine thought of a different example. Leaning back on the sofa, she said, “Maybe you know people who say they are stuck in their jobs, in their homes, and in their relationships. Nothing ever changes. It never gets unbearable, but it also never gets much better. The reason people like this feel stuck is not because they enjoy their lives so much and are feeling so grateful for what they have . . .”

Chuck followed the thought. “No, they’re stuck because of fear that doing something different won’t make them happy.”

Looking at her son, Laraine asked, “Now can you imagine what would happen if these people could feel a deep appreciation for their lives? Do you think things would change or stay the same?”

Jeremy thought for a moment and said, “Hmm . . it’s almost counter-intuitive, but I think when we feel a deep appreciation for the way things are, a deep satisfaction about our lives and what’s happening, we aren’t likely to get stuck.”

“Kind of ironic, isn’t it?” Chuck realized out loud. “When we’re grateful for the way things are, we make progress in our lives and feel free to make changes. When we merely focus on making changes, we get stuck because we’re not grateful for the way things are.”

It takes some deep soul-searching to fully understand the role gratitude can play in finding joy and abundance, but it’s worth the effort.