Why I love American Thanksgiving, even though I’m British!
Expressing gratitude in our lives is something we can so easily forget to do, especially whenever our focus gets stuck on what is going wrong, rather than appreciating what is going right.
It is so easy to get caught up in daily struggles and forget the countless blessings all around us.
I have always loved the concept of the American Thanksgiving, traditionally celebrated every November to give thanks for the autumn harvest, now used to express gratitude in general. Families and friends gather together to take time out from their busy lives and give thanks for all the wonder they experience, including the love they share with each other.
When was the last time you stopped for a moment to smile and behold the beauty in your life?
As the saying goes ‘you get what you focus on’ – when you focus more on the good than the bad, you receive more of it! And vice versa. This is because whatever we think about effects how we feel in our body and determines the actions we take. Our thoughts also effect our energetic vibration, attracting to us the people, places, opportunities, and things aligned with our energy. We are literally like magnets drawing towards us whatever we focus our attention on.
Every day… I choose to be in an attitude of gratitude. I get to choose how each day begins and receive the positive energy that accompanies my awareness and gratitude for all the many blessings in my life… Gratitude may not be the greatest of virtues, but it is the parent of all the others.
Shifting our thoughts so that we regularly notice and express thanks for the things we are grateful for in our lives can be referred to as switching to a gratitude attitude. Like forming any new habit, this can at first take a little effort and perseverance, but within as little as 21 days, it is likely to have already become second nature.
One of the oldest traditions linked to gratitude is the act of giving thanks or saying ‘grace’ before and/ or after eating a meal.
Whenever introducing something new into your daily routine it is often easiest to tie it in with another regular practice – eating is a good one! After spending three years living and working in Japan I became so accustomed to the Japanese tradition of expressing gratitude before and after meals that I automatically continued the practice when I returned to the UK.
In many other countries it is also customary to express gratitude by saying a prayer or express an unvoiced intention at mealtimes, the act of which tends to be rooted in a religion like Christianity, Judaism, Baha’i, Islam and Hinduism.
You do not need to follow a religion to give thanks before eating. Use your mealtimes to quiet your mind for a moment and turn your attention towards all the things you are grateful for in your life. An easy one to get you started is to be thankful for having food to eat. Then turn your attention to yourself. Often self-admiration can be viewed in our society as selfish, but self-gratitude in this sense of the term is about appreciating that you are an absolutely amazing human being, right now in this moment.
Be thankful for the miracle of your every breath, your very being. Express thanks for all the things that make you so uniquely you. Notice how good it feels in your body to spend some time focusing on positive thoughts.