Thanksgiving is a unique American holiday as far as I know, one derived from our early history on this continent. Ironically, a holiday that was originally intended as an opportunity to practice gratitude has become more associated in our minds with gluttony!
Gratitude heals and strengthens us. Seeing that we have so much helps cure us of our greed and constant desires for more, more, more.
Our greed for “more” can be very subtle. It can take the form of complaining, self-criticism, and cynicism. All of these are forms of the thought “This Is Not Good Enough.”
While the discernment that there are things in the world that could be improved can be helpful, constant thoughts of our world’s deficiencies can subtly rob us of life’s joy and satisfaction if we do not practice mindfulness with these thoughts.
Thanksgiving can be a time when we reflect on how MUCH we have, how fortunate we are, how lucky we are. Nearly all of us in this country, and probably each and every person who would end up reading this blog post, swim in wealth and good fortune. We have enough food, shelter, warmth, clean water and medicine. We have leisure time. We have entertainment. We live in a blessed time and place, compared to other times and places through history and across the planet. Can we see this, even for a day?
Thanksgiving can be an opportunity for those who practice mindfulness to focus on cultivating gratitude. Gratitude is a skill, not a feeling. We can note what we have, even if we don’t happen to get a warm-gushy-fuzzy feeling. It’s nice if we can feel the melting of the heart that occurs when we wholly embrace gratitude. But its enough if we are willing to note–coolly and cognitively if need be–how many things we have to be grateful for.
Let’s count our blessings on Thanksgiving. And eat mindfully, with great enjoyment and savoring the seasoning of gratitude.