"Happiness is not having what you want, but WANTING what you have."
Rabbi Hyman Schachtel
November has arrived! In many American households this is the time to begin crafting the Christmas List. Clearly identifying what we DON'T have, but want. Instead in our family the arrival of November means that we spend a bit of extra time taking notice of what we DO have.
We began our Gratitude Bowl tradition a few years ago. Unlike so many other traditions that have come and gone, this one stuck. It's something we all look forward to. An excuse to slow down each day and to take note of all that we have. And then a chance to share these thankful thoughts with those we love.
I think you might enjoy this little experiment as well...Here's how it works.
We leave a dish with a stack of scrap paper, a pencil and if you'd like, a sign reminding you and informing any guests of the tradition. "Gratitude Bowl - what can you be thankful for?"
Throughout the day, any time I notice the dish and at meals, I stop to write down something or someone I am grateful for. At first, in the early days of November, I feel rusty and out of practice. In fact there are sometimes even days when it feels that my items to be grateful for are rather generic!
At other times, especially later in the month, I find myself joyously tossing multiple notes into the dish. Perhaps in recognition of something that just happened. Gratitude begins to flow the more I recognize and acknowledge it.
I enjoy watching my daughter thoughtfully write out her own notes and sometimes stealthily tuck one into the dish during the day. I feel so blessed to be encouraging this flow of abundant outlook. We are so often focused on what we lack, whatever is missing or absent. This is an opportunity to create a mosaic of grateful thoughts over days, a month of blessings and heartwarming reminders. Gratitude nurtures that part of us that knows we are all connected, whole, enough.
On Thanksgiving Day everyone who joins us is invited to participate in contributing to the Gratitude Bowl. Throughout our meal we pull papers from the dish and read aloud the notes that have captured our gratitude throughout the month.
Everyone leaves with a feeling of deep appreciation. Touched by the sharing of good things, happy thoughts, thoughtful deeds, and the abundance that graces our lives. The residue of gratitude lasts far beyond the end of the month.
I invite you to experiment. Let me know how it goes. Create your own variation on this theme and I hope you'll share your stories and perhaps a few of your favorite grateful notes here.
Today I am truly grateful for this tradition and for the opportunity to share how blessedly abundant our lives truly are. I am grateful for the love and support that I feel in my life. I am grateful for this delicious fresh-from-the-farmer's market salad! I am grateful for unexpected emails from loved ones far across the world. I am grateful for crisp autumn days. I am grateful to know that I am missed. I am grateful for clean, pressed sheets on my well-made bed. I am grateful to be tucking in early with a good book. Today, my bowl is overflowing with gratitude.
I wish you each joy, gratitude and contentment.