Did you know that the first ever unofficial Thanksgiving took place in 1621? The Plymouth pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast of celebration and gratitude for their bountiful blessings. But it was not until Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 proclamation that Thanksgiving became an official holiday.
Today millions of people celebrate the national Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends. We indulge on turkey, stuffing and pumpkin bliss, eventually going for a walk to assuage the remorse for the quantity of food we inhaled. We may eventually watch the football game and give intentional thanks and thoughtful gratitude.
Is it possible to expand the warm, fuzzy feelings of thanksgiving to our daily life? Let’s explore the gifts of gratitude.
“It is not happiness that makes gratefulness, but gratefulness that makes happiness”.
When we look at indigenous people, we find that at the very heart of their life, the power of gratitude is deeply understood as a doorway to the wisdom of interrelatedness. I believe this is the foundation for compassion, forgiveness, trust, kindness, and love. I think of gratitude as the memory of the heart, it’s like an underlying stream of energy that links us to the divine source and to every part of creation. It’s an affirmation of goodness that motivates us to appreciate all the amazing facets of life, creating a steady balance of peace, harmony, and happiness.
Gratitude reduces anxiety and depression. Some studies suggest gratitude strengthens the immune system, lowers blood pressure, and reduces body aches and pains. It seems that expressing gratitude is one of the most powerful ways to enhance health and well-being.
Have you noticed people who regularly demonstrate gratitude tend to be happier, more joyful, optimistic? They seem to live a fulfilling and meaningful life, and they are also more likely to help others in need.
Sometimes in the midst of struggling with health, financial, or emotional issues, we may find ourselves focusing on problems with an attitude of righteousness, confusion, fear and anger toward life. It can be challenging to feel grateful during these difficult times. It takes a courageous and powerful mind shift to choose not to dwell on unhappy feelings. Changing old thoughts and beliefs takes effort and discipline. When we remember to wake up, and shake off the cloak of victimhood and martyrdom and see life in a larger context, we allow a new frequency of awareness into our reality.
GRATITUDE AS A WAY OF LIFE
There are endless ways to express gratitude. Find what resonates with you and cultivate your capacity for feeling thankful this holiday season and throughout your life. Below are some ways that I find helpful to cultivate gratefulness.
Slow down long enough to listen and to feel the amazing sensuous earth that we live on.– This practice is fundamental to gratefulness. Gratitude is not just for material comforts, or having your survival needs met. It needs to expand to all relationships of life, including nature.
As we become awake to the beauty that surrounds us, and in us, we open our senses and let our bodies register the flow of blessings: the warm sun on our skin, the generosity of the rains, the texture of the ocean, the bird songs, the fragrance of roses, the warm sand of the beach on our bare feet – so much is being offered to us freely. In the ecology of the sacred, nature is our most precious gift, and it is our responsibility to humbly receive her blessings.
Contemplate mindfully. When we take time to acknowledge, and appreciate the little and big events that happen throughout our day that make us feel lighter, special, cared for, and even loved, we may be able to open our heart a bit wider to receive what is being offered in this present moment.
Express gratitude through self-love. Finding ways to nourish ourselves in a loving and caring way is not being selfish, it is a necessity. By honoring our gifts, quirks and uniqueness we may find ways to give ourselves what we truly need. When we develop authentic feelings of thankfulness, self-esteem, and creativity begin spiking upward.
Live in the present time, practice contentment. While negativity fuels diseases, gratitude nurtures recovery by helping to discard what we feel is lacking in our life. We can allow ourselves to be content right here, right now with all we are, and all we have, knowing that the struggles and the joys of life are only experiences that helps us to awaken and to grow
Even in the midst of chaos and suffering life, is a most precious gift, a reason for celebration and appreciation. Gratitude creates an open field of possibilities to see, and to feel the majesty of our interrelatedness that is woven with all things and all beings. The more passionately we express authentic gratitude, the more loving and happy we become. This is the gift of gratitude.
I am grateful to have you as a reader and for having the opportunity to share these thoughts with you. Thank you.