So it’s Thanksgiving again.
A wonderful holiday. I think the popular sentiment is that unless you’re seven years old, Thanksgiving kicks Christmas’ ass in terms of holidays.
No gifting pressure. Family. Falls on a Thursday each year. Food-centric. Good times.
And Thanksgiving has a more universal inclusive theme – a day to give thanks.
Many people take this opportunity to list what they are grateful for, and compared to most days, this in itself is a huge upgrade.
In terms of feelings, the feeling of gratitude is in the Major Leagues (could not resist dropping a baseball metaphor). It’s a very, very good feeling to activate. Certainly you know this because it feels good to activate feelings of gratitude.
Compared to lower grade feelings such as guilt, blame or overwhelm, gratitude rules. Better things flow to you when you’re tapped into feelings of gratitude.
If your goal is to reach the Majors, then practicing the feeling of gratitude will certainly get the job done. Relatively speaking, if you tap into the feeling of gratitude every day, you will have a better life than 97% of the people on the planet.
However, this post is intended for those who or those who are curious what it would be like to transcend the Majors and reach the All-Star level, the upper 3%.
Allow me to run with my baseball analogy for a moment, if you will…
Consider that the average Major Leaguer gets a hit one out of every four times at bat. Doing the math (1/4), this means the player has a batting average of .250.
To be considered an excellent hitter, the magic number is to have a batting average of .300+. Breaking this down over the course of a 162-game season with 6 games a week and around 4 at-bats per game, the difference between an average hitter and an excellent hitter is one hit per week.
One hit per week.
One hit per week separates the journeyman from the All-Star. Over a career, that one hit a week can easily add up to a differential of tens (or hundreds) of millions of dollars for a Major League baseball player.
My point is that over time, small tweaks have huge effects. Exponentially powerful effects.
Coming back to the subject of gratitude, while practicing the feeling of gratitude is good, if you can make the small tweak and upgrade to the feeling of appreciation, over time, the difference in your life will be huge.
When tapping into gratitude (focusing on something you are thankful to have in your life), you simply cannot help but call up a thought of when you DID NOT HAVE IT.
Consider the genesis of the Thanksgiving tradition. The pilgrims were using the harvest to celebrate (activates a good feeling) that they had survived (activates a not so good feeling) another year.
Try it yourself.
Think of something you are grateful for… let the thought come into your mind.
Wait for a moment…
And I’ll bet you a drumstick that in the next moment you will activate a thought that feels 180 degrees away from your original, warm thought.
It’s like trying not to think of white elephant. The thought just gets activated automatically, outside of your control.
When I do this gratitude exercise, the first thing that pops into my mind is that right now I am grateful to be surrounded by my loving family. Indeed this is a warm feeling thought.
However, two beats later…
I cannot help but activate the opposite feeling.
My memory marches me back to my sophomore in year in college, living 1500 miles for home and spending five days alone in a huge dorm. Thanksgiving dinner was microwaved hot dogs washed down with a wretched mixture of tequila and Hawaiian punch. (Oh, I mixed in a few tears for extra saltiness).
Because gratitude activates both the positive feelings in the present moment as well as reflexively activating the negative feelings of the past, the overall energy of gratitude is mixed. It’s sort of like hooking up a battery to a light with corroded electrodes. The light still shines, and while it’s much better than nothing, it’s only a fraction as bright as it could be if the connection was just cleaned up.
So how do we upgrade and clean up that connection? How to we go from “good” to Very Cool?
Upgrade from Gratitude to Appreciation.
Moving to appreciation is the small tweak that will lift you to the All-Star level.
Appreciation is pure and clean without the caffeine. Feelings of appreciation activate only the good stuff in the present moment, without dredging up the unwanted past experiences.
Instead of a gratitude list, focus your thoughts on what you appreciate.
What do you appreciate about your life? Your body? Your work? Your friends? Your relationships? Your family members (even the ones who get under your skin)?
Appreciation is all about the present.
And all about the good.
Take a moment to feel the subtle but unmistakable difference between gratitude and appreciation.
This is important because whatever feelings you activate — whether you are aware of them or not — will determine what you attract in your life.
And if you want to live a Very Cool Life, you need to pay attention at this level of detail.
So use this holiday as the springboard to raise your awareness and upgrade to becoming an Appreciator.
P.S. Yes, I made this same point last year in a video.
I will make the same point next year.
I think it’s THAT important.