This is the week Americans celebrate the feast of giving thanks for the bounty of our harvest. Many are gathering with family around the dinner table. If this time is stressful for you, follow the practices I wrote about in my blog article “The Shadow of the Holiday Season”!
The point of this holiday is simply to give thanks – never mind the history, the massacre, whatever fictitious story we were told about the first feast which probably never happened. Spiritually, it’s a great time to look around and be thankful for all we’ve got.
Think of the seeds you sowed – metaphorically – last winter and look at the harvest you brought in this year. Isn’t it good?! (And if you don’t think so, click on the “Let’s Talk” tab to the right! ;-> )
Much has been written about the positives of practicing gratitude. Some of you may have kept a gratitude journal, writing down 5 things you’re grateful for each night, reading them at the end of the week to reinforce the feeling of having a LOT of Good in your life.
Some of you may have kept a Gratitude Jar, where you write on small slips of paper what you feel grateful for, throw it in the jar, and watch your gratitude grow there. When you’re feeling lousy, simply pull out the strips of paper, begin reading, and it shifts your mood!
These are great practices. We often take for granted all we truly do have, because our Survival brain is wired to look for what’s missing. So Thanksgiving is a time to calm down the Survival brain and relax the body, so we can come into our Authentic Self, open our heart and feel real gratitude, knowing how truly blessed we are.
Now if you’re ready to bump up your Gratitude practice to a new level, here are three ways to practice Gratitude that we don’t always think of:
1. Give thanks for your challenges. We are so accustomed to looking at our challenges as problems to solve or something to figure out, that we seldom step back, open our hearts, and give thanks that we are in the middle of having an opportunity to GROW! We love the nice, wonderful, comforting places in our lives, and the truth is that our greatest growth and transformation came from our seeming obstacles and problems (of course, if we chose to step up and face them! See the “Let’s Talk” button to the right if that hasn’t exactly been true for you… ;-> )
2. Give thanks for your enemies. This is not to say that we shouldn’t put boundaries down around people who don’t respect us – in fact, they’re in our lives to teach us how to strengthen our boundaries. And it’s not to say we need to hang around people who don’t like us. In the practice of looking at our Shadow, we come to realize that the people who bug us the most are in our lives so we have the chance to self-reflect and see – again – how we are being called to GROW. How can we change our attitude, how can we forgive and not just forget, how can we stop carrying toxic energy inside of us because of someone else being who they are, and how can we stop needing everyone to be just like us in order to be happy? Gratitude for those tough people in our lives – they are a blessing in disguise.
3. Give thanks for what you DON’T have – YET. Finally, this is the most powerful Gratitude practice – giving thanks for something you’d like to see in your life that is not yet there. When we give thanks for something we desire, as if we already have it, it opens up our heart and our nervous system to be in the state of receptivity. It is the best way to attract that which you are desiring. Keep giving thanks for what you don’t have – without constantly checking to see if it’s on its way (because that reinforces that you DON’T have it) – and see how great you feel when you feel as though you already have all you want and need. The miracle is – when you feel great for no reason, that’s when all the Good things start appearing in your life – for no reason!
I hope you can take some time this busy holiday season to feel grateful for it ALL. Take the opportunity of this Thanksgiving holiday and really practice Gratitude in a profound way, rather than just our usual superficial nod to the sentiment. And then let me know how you are changed because of it!
Leave your comments below – or on my Facebook page here. I look forward to hearing from you. Have a most enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday!