Thanksgiving Day marks the beginning of the holiday season here in the US. As lovely as the holidays are, sometimes the whirlwind of activities can get the better of us, and we can lose the focus of the season, especially that of Thanksgiving Day, tucked in at the beginning just before we hold our breaths and dive into the Christmas rush. It seems that the entire point of the day gets lost in participating in the season’s activities.
So this year, do something different. You can create joy and thankfulness this season; it only takes a slight change of perspective. Take a moment, whether it’s on Thanksgiving Day or during time that you set aside for yourself, and reflect on the people and things you appreciate. Remember what went well for you in the past year, what things bring you joy, and especially which people are your biggest fans and have been there for you through thick and thin: really feel your sense of appreciation and gratitude for their presence in your life, and for the changes you’ve experienced because of them.
Hold your appreciation in your awareness whenever you can, especially when you feel the rush of the season pressing in on you. Appreciation for the good people and things in your life can change your entire perspective, and give the holidays meaning and a deep satisfaction that perhaps may have been lacking in the past.
True gratitude is appreciation for the good people and things in our lives, for the joys and challenges that create our day-to-day experiences. Appreciation defines us; it informs our outlook and influences how we move about in our world; it colors how we interact with others, how we value the people in our circles and care for the things under our stewardship.
True gratitude is a way of being, a chosen perspective. Gratitude, true gratitude, is cultivated by choosing to think on our blessings, those people, events, and things that give us joy, rather than focusing on the negative people and things that pepper our existence. It’s cultivated by choosing.
Rain falls on everyone; gratitude is choosing to see that it’s raining on one’s garden and not that it’s raining on one’s parade. Gratitude is choosing to see the glass is half-full and the wine bottle is too. Gratitude is being happy for puppy kisses instead of fretting about the fur on one’s pants.
This kind of gratitude transforms our experience of life. It gives each day meaning, because it opens our eyes to the beauty and love and happiness that always surround us. We notice beauty and love and happiness in our world when we have them in our mind. Not only do we see more of these on days we intentionally choose gratitude, we start to see more of them every day no matter how we feel. Our senses and our mind are selective: our mind processes so much sensory data every moment that we can’t consciously handle it all, so the mind sends us data consistent with our habitual thoughts in a kind of sensory confirmation bias. We see what we expect to see because the mind thinks that’s what we want to see.
Fortunately, we can consciously filter the data we receive by managing our thoughts. When we do, we start noticing different things than we used to notice. As we notice different things, our experience begins to change, then our beliefs change, and then our circumstances begin to change to conform to our new patterns of habitual thought and our beliefs. This can work both ways; our experiences can change for the better or for the worse based on our thoughts and beliefs.
As our circumstances change, our opportunities change as well. New possibilities present themselves, new people appear in our lives, new talents and skills emerge that we may not even have known that we had. Suddenly, everything seems to change in a very short time. Our circle of acquaintances changes drastically, we no longer like to gossip around the water cooler, we spend our time planning a new business or volunteering in a new way or learning a new skill or making some kind of positive change in our lives. Often, our finances change, sometimes drastically; the future transforms into something challenging and exciting and encouraging and filled with hope and promise.
Pie in the sky? Not at all. By choosing to think in terms of gratitude, to be gratitude, to live gratitude, we begin to resonate with other things related to the positive frequencies of gratitude: success, money, happiness, opportunity, optimism, inspiration, change, forward motion - and similar people experiencing similar things in their lives.
Changing our minds changes our attitudes change our experiences change our beliefs change our circumstances change our future. During this season of thankfulness, take some time simply to be gratitude. Meditate on it. Make it part of who you are. And expect to see changes in your life.