Mental Health Healing Man

Reflections on Thanksgiving

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

All across the USA, people are preparing for Thanksgiving. It all began back in 1621 when the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe celebrated together after surviving a brutal winter. Thanksgiving is now a national holiday. It is commonly known as the time to gather with family and loved ones, eat a traditional meal, and give thanks for blessings. Many people set aside this day to give thanks…and then return to their regular lives afterwards.

To live with presence and a positive outlook, we must take Thanksgiving beyond a cursory one-day event and make it a part of our everyday lives. Thanksgiving (gratitude) has the power to profoundly transform our lives. Research has shown that practicing gratitude improves mental and physical health; opens the door to new relationships; and increases self-esteem. We are present to the “present” or gifts all around us, and we express that in our words and actions.

The deeper message of Thanksgiving is that of gratitude. When we live in gratitude, we are deeply thankful for the sacred gift of life itself. We are grateful for not only our blessings, but for the learning and strength that comes from adversity. We learn to appreciate and express this gratitude in the way we live our lives.

Gratitude can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. It makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. — Melody Beatty

Here are some fresh perspectives on Thanksgiving.

Thanks-giving. That means expressing and acting on our appreciation. Examples of Thanks-giving:
Telling loved ones that you love and appreciate them for being in your life
Acknowledging and expressing appreciation for hard work and effort
Hugs, kisses, handshakes, and physical expressions of love/appreciation
Giving someone a gift

Thanks-receiving. When you receive thanks, receive it with appreciation. If someone compliments you, believe it! Receive it in the spirit with which it was given. Thanks-receiving also relates to receiving the everyday (often unnoticed) gifts. Eating a meal with thanks-receiving means that you appreciate this gift of nutritious (and hopefully delicious) food that nourishes you and gives you energy. When your paycheck arrives, practice thanks-receiving! Choose to focus on receiving the gift of money exchange for a job well-done instead of wishing it was more. (You can always choose to do something about that — but receive your check with thanks in the meantime). Smiles from strangers, gifts from others…anything you get can be an occasion for thanks-receiving. Be on the lookout for things you receive on a daily basis.

Thanks-acting. This term refers to the practice of gratitude for having power to choose and take action. No matter what situation you are facing — you always have a choice in how to respond. You may be able to change a situation or take decisive action. Conversely, the actual situation may be beyond your control, but you have the power to choose your attitude and next steps. When you are thankful that YOU get to choose what action to take, it gives you a real sense of empowerment and positivity. Give thanks to your brain, your body, your network of support, and your Higher Power and then act with thanks-acting.

Everything is a gift. The degree to which we are awake to this truth is a measure of our gratefulness, and gratefulness is a measure of our aliveness. — David Steindl-Rast

Thanks-living. This is the deepest and most profound form of Thanksgiving. When you live with thanks, you live from a place of deep appreciation for the sacred gift of life. Every moment brings a gift to you, and you have the opportunity to respond to that gift. You see things around you with new eyes and are truly present in a transformative ways. You begin to notice things that you did not notice before. The small things of life do not bother you so much; when you get pulled into the busy-ness of everyday life, you notice and are able to step back and re-engage with positivity. You live in a space of not only living in the present moment, but being deeply thankful for it. This is Thanksgiving in its most sacred form.