Thanksgiving has long been my most favoritest of holidays. If there was a Will Ferrell version of a Turkey Elf, yes, I would be that excited about this glorious day. What’s not to love about a day involving everything that is good about America: football, family-like people and of course, overeating?! I mean, that IS what that day is all about, right?
Every now and again I come down with a serious bout of entitled-itis – a contagious disease that claims I deserve everything I’ve ever wanted. To be fair, it seems to be a somewhat natural side-effect of our consumerist culture that screams during every commercial break, “WHAT YOU HAVE WILL NEVER BE ENOUGH,” and whispers through every magazine ad, “You are only as good as your new car, your shiny new clothes, your iPhone 13.2 or your Hello Kitty toaster.”
“You are only as good as your new car, your shiny new clothes, your iPhone 13.2 or your Hello Kitty toaster.”
This week at the water cooler I’ve been hearing all about the crazed shopping itineraries, “Gotta get there at least by 4:30pm on Thursday”4:30?!? What? “Oh yeah, I’ll hit at least 3 of the big stores before heading to the mall.”
You do know that Thursday is THANKS-giving? Why is it that we can’t even be thankful for an entire day before we have to race out to all of the stores to buy new crap! So what if that flat screen TV is 54 cents, this is about the fundamental truth that most of us have way more STUFF than we could ever need, yet it’s never, ever, ever enough (like ever).
It’s not even about the fact that the shopping is forcing thousands of employees to miss dinner with their families. It’s about a lifestyle. It’s about an attitude. It’s about a choice to see that even on our lowest days we are blessed beyond measure.
It’s about a choice to see that even on our lowest days we are blessed beyond measure.
This year, I’ve been doing something crazy to reclaim my gratitude. Every day during November I have been writing a letter to someone who has profoundly impacted my life. I haven’t sent them yet, but I’ve realized I could spend every day for an entire year and never say enough thank yous. And that’s just people.
I challenge you to decide today to live a life of gratitude. Pick a rhythm that forces you to focus on the positive aspects of your life and all the amazing blessings God has given you (starting with the fact that you are alive!) Maybe start a journal and end your days by writing a few things you are thankful for each day like I do.
If you’re an skeptic about the importance of regularly showing your thankfulness, Check out this study by a professor from UC Davis and the University of Miami about a few of the benefits:
•Well-Being: Grateful people report higher levels of positive emotions, life satisfaction, vitality,
optimism and lower levels of depression
and stress. The disposition toward gratitude appears to
enhance pleasant feeling states more than it diminishes unpleasant emotions. Grateful people do not
deny or ignore the negative aspects of life.
•Prosociality: People with a strong disposition toward gratitude have the capacity to be empathic and to take the perspective of others. They are rated as more generous and more helpful by people in their social networks (McCullough, Emmons, & Tsang, 2002).
•Spirituality: Those who regularly attend religious services and engage in religious activities such as prayer reading religious material score are more likely to be grateful. Grateful people are more likely to acknowledge a belief in the interconnectedness of all life and a commitment to and responsibility to others (McCullough et. al., 2002).
•Materialism: Grateful individuals place less importance on material goods; they are less likely to judge their own and others success in terms of possessions accumulated; they are less envious of others; and are more likely to share their possessions with others relative to less grateful persons
The true reason I will never shop on Thanksgiving is I don’t ever want anyone, even for a second to think I am not completely and utterly grateful for every blessing God has given me. This culture, this world is not where my heart is found. I won’t shop on Thanksgiving because I NEED an entire day, 24 hours to not think about STUFF or good deals. I need a day to rest and laugh and love without anyone telling me what I have isn’t enough. Because it is.
I am enough. What I have is more than most of the world could ever dream of and I could never show enough thankfulness. So 24 hour complete hours once a year, seems like a pretty good place to start.
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Study referenced above: