Two months ago, my husband Gary and I returned from a 13-month “adventure of a lifetime” cruising America’s Great Loop—7500 miles around the mostly inland waterways of the eastern United States (plus Quebec and Ontario) in our own 40’ cabin cruiser that we bought for the Loop. We created many joyful experiences and we also had several challenges along the way, but, as “Loopers” often reminded each other, everything that happened was APOTA—All Part of the Adventure.
We cruised lakes, bays, canals and rivers large and small and intra-coastal waterways across the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic seaboard. We learned how to anchor and dock (168 stops), go through 153 locks and dodge hundreds of crab pots (seemed like a bajillion!), shoals, rocks and other boats. AND, we are very grateful for all of it. All of it? Even the most difficult parts? Yes, all of it.
As I was pondering what to write this Thanksgiving, two quotes came to my attention that guided this writing:
Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.
What if today we were just grateful for EVERYTHING?
Being grateful for everything takes practice.
It’s pretty easy to be grateful for “the good stuff”—family, friends, shelter, food and all the ways we ordinarily count our blessings, but I’ve discovered it can be very powerful to give thanks for the challenges and upsets as well. These are the things that grow us, that help us work through our personal issues, that make us better people—more compassionate, empathetic, thoughtful and appreciative. Perhaps you have had this experience too, recognizing that through your own challenges, you have become stronger, more aware, more resilient, more confident and hopefully happier.
Gratitude can bring greater joy and greater peace.
“Gratitude” has been my theme for 2021-2022 and on this cruising adventure I found that turning to gratitude every day brought me greater joy as well as greater peace. As we cruised through 19 eastern states and 2 provinces, I was so very grateful for the amazing people we met, the wildlife that showed up and the stunning beauty we saw throughout our journey.
Expressing gratitude for the good stuff comes more naturally and easily than being grateful for our challenges, but when we stop and express thanks for the challenges, something magical can happen. I invite you to try this even in the midst of any difficulties you might have. There could be important and helpful lessons to learn, greater understandings, new perspectives, deeper insights.
Giving thanks for what we already have
increases what we already have.
Giving thanks for what we want or dream of
can be just as powerful.
When we were especially challenged, through rough waters, for example, I found myself expressing deep gratitude for our sturdy and very seaworthy boat, the skills and wisdom of my husband (the Captain), grateful for our strong and healthy bodies and grateful to the Universe knowing we were being guided safely through each challenge. Practicing gratitude in this way helped me immensely when I experienced any kind of anxiety or fear (which was quite often during the first few months and when we were approaching new and different waters with a lot of unknowns). Gratitude would bring me back into the present moment and helped me focus on the beauty all around us. I became more grateful for our sense of adventure. Gratitude helped me feel lighter and more energetic. Gratitude gave me courage when it appeared to be lacking. Gratitude helped me convert any anxiety or fear into calming confidence and peace. And the more grateful I became, the more joy and peace I experienced!
Allow yourself to be fueled by gratitude.
In our life together, both on and off the boat, we have discovered that our attitude of gratitude makes a huge difference in how the day goes, how the week goes, how our life goes. When we appreciate each other and express our genuine gratitude on a regular basis (instead of simply taking each other for granted), it outweighs and releases any tension or upset that occurs (most often when we are both tired after a long and challenging day). Even when we are weary, we can still be grateful for all the ways we work together, help each other, support each other, listen to each other, understand each other, share our thoughts and are needs. Being grateful creates more harmony and we continue to find ourselves fueled by gratitude.
Express gratitude for what you desire.
As I shared in my book, Conscious Order: Clear Your Mind, Leave Clutter Behind (page 125), “When you practice gratitude, your heart and mind fill up with good thoughts. Good thoughts make you feel good. Feeling good can inspire and motivate you into action. Good thoughts and feelings can help develop peace of mind.” And continuing, “The amazing thing about gratitude is that, in addition to being grateful for what you already have…you can express gratitude for what you desire. For example, if you desire greater order and greater peace of mind, you can say, ‘I am so grateful for my greater order and greater peace of mind’…the Law of Attraction is at work here—as you focus on order and peace (and whatever other qualities you want to experience more of), more of it will come your way.”
As Thanksgiving approaches, let us be more mindful of all the blessings we have in our life. Let us also be grateful for our challenges and see them as blessings. Let us be grateful for the lessons we’ve learned and the wisdom we have gained. And knowing that we all seek to live in a world of greater love and greater peace, may we repeat often:
“I am deeply grateful for a world of greater love and greater peace.”
May this Thanksgiving and the holidays to come be filled with many joyous, treasured and grateful moments for you and your loved ones. As German theologian Meister Eckhart said, “If the only prayer you say in your whole life is ‘THANK YOU’ that would suffice.”