Lots of things are contagious: yawns, colds, the flu. Gratitude is also contagious. When we express thanks to another person, we spread the virtue of gratitude.
What tends to go viral, however, in the stores and in our families is impatience and even contempt. Think of how quickly frustration escalates when people are openly impatient or irritated. Ill will spreads like a virus making people sick with disgust, annoyance, and condescension. Those feelings literally can make us sick.
Imagine instead if we could inoculate each other and people we meet casually throughout the day with the virtue of gratitude. It is possible that it could go viral, if enough of us made the commitment to share this healing balm every day.
Thanksgiving is a one day celebration in our country, but gratitude is a virtue we can practice 365 days a year. Beginning each day with a prayer of thanksgiving orients us in the way of gratitude. I encourage you to try this simple exercise for one week and see how it reorients your spirit. Every morning, write down three things/people you appreciate. Spend just 30 seconds holding each one of these in your mind, ruminating on what it is you appreciate about that thing or person.
All prayer begins with thanksgiving for a reason. It adjusts our posture toward gratitude. When we live from a grateful heart, we live from a fuller heart and our heart is a larger habitation for God.