What’s your favorite part of the holidays? Thanks, or Giving? How do you make your season special?
Thanksgiving is a unique holiday here in the USA. Although the history of our special day is fraught with controversy, the fact remains that having one day devoted to food and gratitude is pretty darned cool.
This is the week when feasts are front and center. Whether it’s farm to table or fridge to platter, the festivities all circle back to the knife, fork, and spoon. And unlike a lot of holidays, Turkey Day is agnostic, adapting itself to whatever spiritual tradition you may or may not have in your family tree.
It’s also traditionally the time to gather with family, travel across the country, and enjoy big gatherings with your friends. The pandemic, however, has put a pinch on these plans, so if you’re following the advice and guidance of the experts you’re sitting tight in your bubble and having your holiday visits via Zoom.
After you peel away all of the trappings and the history and the extra pounds on the scale, the relatives and the leftovers and just one more piece of pie, Thanksgiving itself asks one of the biggest existential questions of all: Just what, exactly, are you thankful for?
When it comes to feeling good about life, gratitude is the attitude. It’s the secret sauce for seeing your glass as half full, the recipe for keeping a smile on your dial, the roadmap to realizing your dreams. Doors only open when you’re not upset about the ones that just shut behind you.
Another good thing about gratitude is that it’s an all-purpose state-of-mind that can be aimed like a spotlight. It shrinks or expands to suit your circumstances, and the more practice you get at applying it, the easier it is to whip out on a moment’s notice and ‘look on the bright side’.
Mind you, when disaster strikes or tragedy or heartbreak invites grief to join your party it can be pretty darned hard to count your blessings, but the lifeline out of your black hole starts with the tiniest thread of gratitude and appreciation for whatever you have left, even if it’s only your breath.
I remember coming across a copy of John Demartini’s book Count Your Blessings about 20 years ago. It landed on my lap at a time when it felt as if the whole world was lined up against me and I had nowhere to turn. Its message is simple and yet when one is flirting with rock bottom it really helps to find a sign such as this.
Have you ever known anyone who was truly ungrateful? What was their life like? What kind of relationships did they have? Were they successful and happy? Chances are you wouldn’t want to spend even an hour in their shoes, even if they had managed some level of power or material success.
Gratitude is one of the flavors of contribution. You’ve always got some. There’s always more where that came from. You’ll never run out. Its twin is appreciation, and together they’re like a fountain of positivity that keeps your spirit shined up and sparkly.
Here’s a Thanksgiving challenge for you. Take this inspiration from The Red Queen who told Alice “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast!” and see if you can find six things to be thankful for first thing in the morning before your first cup of tea, (or coffee if you’re so inclined).
Try it for a day or three, or even a month. See if you can make it a habit. Observe yourself and pay attention to your mental state, your communication with others, your resiliency, your luck. Notice whether or not the people around you make a habit of being grateful.
Best of all, it won’t cost you a dime. No-one has to know what you’re up to. You can tell it to the world and sing it from the rooftops or keep it zipped behind your smile like the Cheshire Cat. You may want to take a few private notes or even keep track in a journal.
It’s no secret that what you focus on expands. The universe is designed to oblige so if nothing else consider your gratitude habit as a way of priming the cosmic pump. And hey, with the New Year on the way, what have you got to lose?
Wishing you a lucky and loving Thanksgiving week, see you next Monday!
Director of the Dance First Association
Publisher of Conscious Dancer Magazine