Yes, it\’s that time again, when giant turkeys and homemade pies entice
us to stay at the table longer than we otherwise might. With
Thanksgiving as our national day of gratitude, we typically celebrate
it with wonderful home cooked meals. We gobble them up, ask for
seconds, and then return for left overs before we\’re finally ready to
call it a day.

But what about the rest of your life? How well do you gobble up the
gifts that are given to you? How well do you show your gratitude then?
Because no matter the challenges, there are still so many, many gifts
that life bestows, not just once in awhile, here and there, but over
and over again.

How Well Do You Receive?
For instance, how well do you receive compliments? Not just hear
the words–but truly hear the other person\’s care when they comment on
your sense of humor, your new haircut, your bold, visionary idea at
work. Do you take it in? Let it fill your sense of self, perhaps even
your heart and soul?

Or do you laugh in embarrassment and wave it off?

Perhaps you roll your eyes, shrug your shoulders and mumble, “Oh, it\’s nothing.”

Or do you tell the person what it means to hear such caring praise from someone you admire?

Maybe you take a minute to let it soak in while you hold the other\’s gaze, and then finally say a deeply meant “Thank you.”

Without gratitude, you can never feel spiritually full. You can never accept and trust that life is joyous and rewarding.

Now we\’re well aware that life can deal out some pretty lousy blows,
betrayals and horrible losses. But that\’s only part of the picture.

And, that\’s the point.

If we get stuck in anger that Fran and Mike got the metaphorical
drumsticks, and Amy and Jed got the wishbone, then we\’ll never be able
to rejoice in the moist, succulent breast meat covered with Aunt Anna\’s
divine gravy.

And while we may say grace before the Thanksgiving meal, the point of a
life well lived is to live in grace as much as possible. That can only
happen when gratitude becomes you.

Living In Grace
What does it mean to live in grace?

First you experience gratitude for what you have. And then you grow
your appreciation for the gifts that come with your everyday life–even
the challenges that help you grow.

Little by little, you start to notice how gratitude becomes more
natural to you, almost instinctive–a kind of everyday grace. It allows
you to more fully experience and appreciate all that happens. In time
gratitude becomes part of your identity. And that\’s how gratitude
becomes you, who you really are.

All that\’s required is greater attention to what comes to you and
blesses your life, no matter how large, no matter how small. With
greater attention, you achieve more minutes, then hours, and finally
days that are lived in a state of grace. And then you feel centered,
relaxed, trusting, aware of the value in the moment, and energized by
all the possibilities before you.

It just takes commitment to living a fuller life, a more enjoyable and enjoyed life.

This year we are experiencing enormous gratitude for something that started off with a terrible disappointment.

A Gift of Disappointment
When our current editor expressed interest in our proposal to
write a wedding book, she wanted an entirely different book than what
we had in mind.

We cared passionately about trying to help bring down the divorce rate
(and the accompanying heartache and family distress), and saw that one
of the areas of that hadn\’t been examined was the wedding process.
That\’s why our original title was “The Wedding, Will Your Marriage
Survive It?”

We wanted to write a social commentary and critique that would examine
the many ways that current wedding traditions are actually dangerous to
the marriage that\’s being created.

Instead, we were asked to write an all-positive guide for the contemporary couple.

Well, that was a total shock. Nothing, absolutely nothing like we had
in mind. So, at first we grumbled and groused, moaned and fretted.

But, once we rewrote an entire chapter to demonstrate that we could
deliver what they wanted, we could then see that we had indeed been
graced by this intervention, even though at first it felt like a black
cloud over our parade.

The new title? The Smart Couple\’s Guide to the Wedding of Your Dreams,
with the subtitle, Planning Together for Less Stress and More Joy. It
is one of the few books written for both the bride and the groom, no
matter their age, no matter how many times they may have been married.
It offers a new look at how couples can share in shaping their
weddings–from the engagement through their honeymoon–so that the
entire process supports them both in creating a successful, passionate,
and joyous marriage with every step along the way.

As it turned out, the process of writing this book was a blessing we
could never have imagined. Brides, grooms, and couples from all over
the country–most of whom we\’d never even met–submitted stories about
how they\’dmade their weddings and the journey leading up to it
incredibly romantic, meaningful, and memorable. Some of their stories
made us laugh, and many were so tender and sweet that they brought us
to tears.

We are eternally grateful to our editor who gave us the new direction
and to our contributors who continue to fill our hearts with joy and
admiration.

When you stretch yourself to want more from life, to expand your
capacity for spiritual satisfaction and meaning, then gratitude can be
found in any of the lessons that this life has to offer.

So this month, and any month, make it a practice to see the opportunity
in the crisis, the blessing in the disappointment, and the joy when it
goes just like you want it to. When you do, gratitude will, indeed,
become you.