In four days Thanksgiving will be here in the United States and according to an article I read recently, we are not ready. According to a survey by Personal Capital, an online wealth management company, 1 in 4 Americans are planning on skipping Thanksgiving due to food costs. The article went on to discuss how rising food costs are just too much for Americans this year. Other families, about 88%, will be cutting at least one dish to save money while another 42% are asking their guests to help pitch in money to pay for the feast. Reflecting on this article has me wondering, "Has Thanksgiving been reduced to just food?"
One of the earliest documentations of this celebration dates back to about 1619. However, Thanksgiving as we know here in the US was proclaimed nationwide by President George Washington on November 26, 1789. The purpose of the day was to set aside time to reflect and give public thanksgiving, prayer, and show gratitude for "the favours of Almighty God." Throughout the generations, dates, times, concepts, and practices of the holiday have changed. Though most would agree that Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for our blessings and to practice gratitude, all in all, the general consensus is that Thanksgiving is a time to get together with family and friends and eat lots of good food.
Even before record inflation and the rising food costs, this time of the year was not without its stresses. Questions of which family home to eat at, who is cooking what dish, who has the best dish, competition among family members on who is more successful, which annoying relative will be there that will need to be avoided for sanity's sake, weather conditions, travel arrangements, sleeping accommodations, and so on are just a few of the stressors of this time of the year. This holiday which is supposed to be a time of family and love can actually give rise to anxiety, envy, conflict, and resentment if we are not careful and aware of the things that trigger us. Yet year after year, Americans would come together and somehow grit their way through it; many finding silver linings. What about this year? For those who are unable to celebrate due to finances or unwilling to grit through it in favor of protecting their peace and mental health, how do you honor the celebration that encourages us to focus on our blessings? This article will examine 4 ideas to use "thanksgiving" to honor the spirit of showing gratitude for the blessings and life that we have.
The absolute simplest way to go about meditation is to sit and focus on the inhalation and exhalation of our breaths. In the context of gratitude meditation, it is the conscious effort to appreciate what makes us feel good. When we meditate focusing on love and kindness, we allow ourselves to widen our perspective of life and our connection to ourselves and others. Take a moment and sit and imagine a specific situation you are grateful for and let the feeling grow and be stronger.
Gratitude requires us to recognize and appreciate the people, things, or moments that bring to us joy, peace, or comfort. Think about the people in your life right now who in varying ways, make life a little more colorful. Thank them. A short conversation or a simple text or thank you note can be just the trick to make both their day and yours. Challenge yourself to thank someone new every week.
Write it down
Challenge yourself to write down 3 things you are grateful for each and every day. Don't over complicate it. If you can see-show gratitude for vision. If you can hear-show gratitude for sound. If you have a home-show gratitude for shelter. If you have a job-show gratitude for income. You don't have to look very far; just start looking. You might be surprised when you go back and read, just how rich your life really is.
Engaging in acts of kindness produce in us the feel-good hormones such as oxytocin and endorphins. It doesn't have to be anything elaborate but find a way to do something spontaneous for someone else with no expectation of them paying you back.
You can volunteer at a shelter, do a kind act for a neighbor, feed a needy person. Turning the focus away from yourself and your own struggles and towards someone else can help you have gratitude for your ability to be a light for another person.
Thanksgiving gatherings can trigger feelings and emotions (both positive and negative). Some of us have wonderful memories surrounding this holiday thus leading to feelings of excitement to be reunited with family and friends. While some others of us have unpleasant memories. No matter which side of the table you are sitting at, I am hoping that the ideas in this article will reconnect you with the spirit of finding the beauty in life and being grateful for what you have.
How are you planning on spending Thanksgiving 2022? Which gratitude exercise do you think you can incorporate into your life? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below. As always, I appreciate your readership and your support. Please remember, wherever you are on this journey, do not worry about getting it perfect; just get it going. Until next time. happy reading.
"You have to find what's good and true and beautiful in your life as it is now." ~Mitch Albom
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