How to Experience the Spirit of Thanksgiving

Experience Thanksgiving

 

Close your eyes.

Well, not yet, or you won’t know what I’m asking.

I want you to remember Thanksgiving dinner as it was in your childhood. If you’re not from the United States, or you didn’t celebrate the holiday, then you may need to suspend reality and make it up. If you had awful Thanksgivings, you may want to imagine the one you wanted.

Okay, try it. Now close your eyes and imagine early Thanksgiving dinners in your home.

 

“Thanksgiving opens the windows of opportunity for ideas to flow your way.” -Jim Rohn

 

When I think about the Thanksgiving of my childhood…

The laughter permeates the room. My sister’s voice is unmistakable, but I can’t hear what she’s saying. My brother is playing the piano, not the classical pieces his teacher wants him to play, but some rock song. My other sisters are playing a game. The TV is on in the living room. There are a few friends visiting and, as often is the case, a few that have nowhere else to go.

Our home, I’ve decided, was built on a secret geological magnetic force. Perhaps that’s why the military has testing grounds nearby. It must be some top-secret location because the magnet attracts all sorts of people to our home. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to who. Not the same age. Gender. Race. I suppose that one commonality is that they are all searching to belong somewhere, anywhere.

Well, look no further. We accept everyone. No judgment. Perhaps we will judge you if you don’t eat, drink, and laugh with us.

It’s rare that I’m so silent. I’m not usually an observer here, but a full-on participant. I guess when you’re imagining everything, then you aren’t watching yourself. This little exercise has me thinking, though, about many things in my past. I personally choose to think about the positive. Any negativity is something I choose to erase. Or, better yet, like an old cassette tape, I just record right over it.

As I open my eyes, I’m transported back to today.

How do you experience the spirit of Thanksgiving? How do you get all the lessons you can from the time with your family?

I think of 3 things: let go, fill up, give away:

LET GO.

Let go of the negative. Most of the gratitude exercises I read about don’t start here, but this is what works for me. I can’t be grateful for something if the voice in my head is whining about something else. Literally I imagine things disappearing, minimizing, or flying away.

Know that any negative experiences of the past happened for a reason: to build character, to make you who you are, or for you to just realize how things are better now.

 

“Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.” -Hermann Hesse

 

FILL UP.

5 Ways to Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude

If there was a drug with no negative side effects that helped you eat healthier, exercise more, experience less depression, and sleep better, how long would it last in the pharmacy?  We would flock to doctors for prescriptions.  The pharmaceutical company would have a hit.

It may not be a drug, but gratitude may be as important to your health as nutrition.   Let’s look at some of the benefits.  People described as thankful tend to:

  •             Eat healthier
  •             Develop stronger immune systems
  •             Experience more energy
  •             Demonstrate optimism and mental acuity
  •             Cope with stress better
  •             Describe life with high satisfaction
  •             Exercise regularly
  •             Solve difficult mental challenges easier
  •             Have deeper friendships
  •             Sleep better
  •             Have increased self-worth and self-esteem
  •             Show increased productivity
  •             Enjoy work and perform better on the job

There’s no happier person than a truly thankful, content person. -Joyce Meyer

Successful people practice gratitude.  After all, I don’t see how you can be called successful if you aren’t happy and thankful for all life has to offer.

Here are five ways to cultivate an “attitude of gratitude”:

1.  Write it down.

Keep a gratitude journal.  Try it for 30 days.  Be specific about what you are thankful for.  Watch how your thoughts develop over time.  You may start out simply, but when you add stories and color, it becomes more powerful.

When you practice gratefulness, there is a sense of respect toward others. -Dalai Lama

2.  Talk about it.

Sharing what you are thankful for isn’t just for Thanksgiving.  Make it a habit to talk about what you are grateful for all year long.  It will reinforce your feelings.