I don’t wish to get into a debate about the origin of Thanksgiving. History is a fickle creature, often omitting certain bits while exaggerating others. The what, wherefore, and how of the first Thanksgiving is a tale for a completely different topic than this one.
I want to discuss instead the idea of gratitude and giving thanks on this day. Gratitude is the second most powerful means to conscious reality creation and finding and/or creating the best life you can, after love. When you express gratitude it is a positive action, and the energy of it can build incredible things.
Many have taken this holiday to express gratitude. Whether that gratitude is for the tangible or intangible, it is always an excellent practice to make gratitude a regular action on your part.
Giving thanks as a matter of course
My parents and grandparents instilled in me the tremendous importance of saying “please” and “thank you.” These words of gratitude may often seem small, but the truth is they are among the most powerful words you can say.
Gratitude in its smallest measure can have an impact akin to the “Butterfly Effect.” Like the notion that the flapping of the wings of a butterfly can have vast consequences across the other side of the world, gratitude for a small thing can have an unbelievable impact.
For example — let’s say a stranger holds a door open for you. You say “thank you” as you pass them, and mean it.
For all you know they were feeling unappreciated and considering something drastic. Now, instead, those two words have made them feel better. They go on about their day and offer someone else a thank you. That person, feeling appreciated, appreciates someone else, and on and on.
Before you know it the domino effect of this changes the mind of someone who was going to do something awful, and instead they do something great.
Far-fetched as you may think this scenario to be that doesn’t make it any less plausible.
Gratitude is amazingly powerful. And to express it costs you nothing but can gain you immeasurable positivity and good feelings. As simplistic as that may seem it’s still the truth.
Being grateful and expressing it carries a lot of weight.
Gratitude in a fear-based world
Too much of the world today is bombarded by messages of lack, scarcity, insufficiency, and worse. There are so many horrors being perpetrated against other people, animals, and the planet itself.
Spend any time on social media or tune into any news programming of any sort and this will become swiftly overwhelming. Then, just to add a little insult to injury, often you can attach guilt to things to be grateful for in the light of privilege and the very public acts of selfish, narcissistic, and horrid people in positions of authority.
To change the big picture you have to begin at home. Start small. Find things to give thanks for. They needn’t be huge, they can be super-simple. Being grateful for the air you breathe, the ears to hear, the eyes to see, and so on is an excellent starting point.
There is no reason not to be thankful for sunlight, moonlight, rain, grass, trees, and food. Simple things readily taken for granted that we don’t consider of sufficient value to give thanks for.
But they are. You can express thankfulness for pretty much anything and everything. Whether it’s tangible or intangible, large or small, personal or general, giving thanks carries forward positivity.
Nobody desires bad feelings
Do you like feeling down? Sad? Low? Distraught? Sure, there are times a good negative sense can be an improvement over feeling nothing at all. But overall, as far as I can see, people want to feel good feelings.
Because of the fear-based society we live within, there is a lot of blame and shame carelessly tossed around. Entitlement, privilege, smugness, and examples of contemptable people doing terrible things get mixed with lesser issues. Imperfect allies using incorrect pronouns, not recognizing the plight of the oppressed, and matters that are important — but often get blown up — sometimes get the same level of displeasure aimed at them.
I am not saying there isn’t room for improvement among allies and people in general. Shaming people for the wrong phrases and unintentional slights, though, helps nobody. Consider intent and action when it comes to how you look at the goings-on in the world. Do you contribute to making it better or just pointing out the awfulness?
Why does that matter? Because the former is conducive to change, while the latter just expands the problem. No, I am not saying in any way, shape, or form that the problem should be ignored. But you need to be mindful of the source you are commenting on, shaming, or blaming.
Be kind. Show respect. Be generative in your speech. Apply mindfulness and become fully aware of what you think and feel before you speak or type. Will your commentary add positivity or negativity to the world at large?
Joy and sorrow
It’s important to acknowledge that emotions run high this time of year.
For many, the holidays are a source of joy and cheer, family and friends. But for others, it’s a reminder of loss, distress, and other unpleasantness.
I have mixed feelings on the holiday season. For the most part I enjoy the festiveness and ideas of peace and goodwill towards all. The notion of giving thanks at Thanksgiving, which should be an every-day occurrence, as I am postulating here, is wonderful.
But I also find the surreal consumerism of the season increasingly off-putting. Why must “Black Friday” begin ON Thanksgiving? So many stores are open on the holiday now, and that just seems both unfair and unkind to the people who work those stores.
This time of year is challenging on a lot of levels for many people. Being mindful of this goes a long way towards how you approach everyone you encounter.
Whether this is a person in the service industry, friends and family, or just random people on the streets, be aware of how you approach them. Be kind. Show empathy. Treat other people as you would desire to be treated.
It’s all too easy to get caught up in the insanity of the holiday in addition to the insanity of the world at large. When you give thanks for the small things more frequently, you build your armor to better face the rest of life’s craziness.
An attitude of gratitude
Being a gratitude machine all the time isn’t possible. You are going to have good days and bad; awful things will happen far outside of your control. As a human being that’s part of life.
But you can choose how long to hold onto negativity. It’s up to you to decide if you want to allow your pervasive feeling to be positive or negative. Mindfulness dictates that choice.
When you recognize how and what YOU are feeling, what you are thinking, and the actions you take, you open yourself to better choices. Choosing to give thanks for more things than not is a powerful tool to build a better world.
Every little bit helps. You don’t need to be grateful for large things, just whatever you can think of.
If you don’t already employ some form of gratitude practice, why not use Thanksgiving as a springboard to this? Choose five things, every single day, to be grateful for. SAY thank you for them. FEEL thankful for them. Allow gratitude to become a part of your overall attitude.
No, this is not a Pollyanna rose-colored glasses idea, when all is said and done. This is a practice open to anyone and everyone to influence your life experience.
Finally, if gratitude is an expression of pure positivity — and I believe whole-heartedly that it is — why not be thanks-giving regularly?
You are worthy and deserving of using your mindfulness to find and/or create the reality in which you desire to live. When all is said and done you matter, and that is something to give thanks for.