On Thanksgiving Day, many people in America are reflecting on what they are thankful for. Take a moment right now to think of some small thing you are thankful for. It doesn’t have to be the best, most amazing thing in your life. Literally anything you enjoy or are glad to have will work! If you’re having trouble, look around you and find something you like in your environment - a colored leaf, a comfy blanket, or a piece of food. From a scientific perspective, gratitude is important because it tells your brain that the pathways to the things that make you feel happy and fulfilled are important, and they become easier to follow. That has benefits for your stress levels, relationships, and overall health.
What does gratitude do from an energetic perspective? Take a breath and really sink into the feeling of gratitude. Right now. I don’t mean a specific thankfulness directed at a person who made that thing possible for you, although that is also important. For now just focus on the feeling of gratitude in your own energy sphere, the appreciation of this joy or blessing. Notice what happens in your body. For me, it feels like my chest warms and lifts while my shoulders and back relax and sink down. Gratitude is grounding. It allows you to be present in the moment and in your own body. Gratitude is also opening. It bumps you out of the hamster-mind, constantly worrying about the future or the past, and into an authentic connection with yourself and the world around you.
Gratitude is the beginning of a prayer. Prayerfulness for me begins with a sense of wonder and beauty. In places of natural beauty (and they exist everywhere!) I’m sometimes overwhelmed by the thought “Wow! How lucky am I to live in a world where this beauty exists? Thank you!” Awareness of our blessings, of the blessedness of life, is also an invitation for more blessings. And more awareness of those blessings, which lead to more blessings, and so on. To me, this is the essence of manifestation. Noticing that you are in a world full of wonderful and joyous things and believing that other wonderful and joyous things will happen. But it doesn't work without gratitude for what is already in your world.
So once again, take a breath. Sink into that feeling. Lift into the love that is a natural companion of gratitude. And from that place, begin your day.
I want to make a note here to recognize that for many people in America, Thanksgiving is a time of grief, not gratitude. Native Americans are reflecting on the grievous and unanswered injustices that are often glossed-over by our feel-good pilgrim story about this day. I encourage you to learn more about the past and how modern Americans are still being affected by colonization, and how you can help. I am grateful that these stories are being told. I invite you to find a way to honor the memory of those massacred eastern tribes, as part of your day of celebration and gratitude. As incongruous as that might sound, we live in a complicated world and grief and gratitude can sit at the same table. You might consider donating or engaging your family in conversation about how our votes and actions affect Native Americans today, and educating others about the violence still being done to Native peoples in America.
I am grateful for each and every one of you doing small and huge things to make this world more just and more loving. Blessed be.