It is easy to assume that being thankful is a feeling that propels us to express our gratitude by giving back in some way, or at the very least, saying “thank you.” We count our blessings, which often are made manifest by comparing our situation to that of someone less fortunate.

Certainly there are many benefits to recognizing all that we have been given. It is far better to survey the landscape of our lives and feel grateful than it is to feel miserable. And when we recognize all we have been given, that does typically move us to either pay it back or pay it forward in some way.

But I think there’s another layer. I think we can move from saying “thank you,” to feeling deep gratitude and giving back, to finally orienting our lives in a way that reflects our thankfulness without any specific prompting or motivating factor. I think, ultimately, our lives can become thanksgiving..

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