November, 2016 – Serve Up a Warm Helping of Gratitude 

Instead of being thankful “for” this Thanksgiving holiday, I challenge you to discover what you can be thankful “in.” To do so, consider these two words and their corresponding meanings. The first is the word “Gratitude,” which is defined as a state of being grateful. The second is “Thanksgiving,” defined as “an expression of gratitude, a short prayer said at meals; grace, a benediction, a public celebration in acknowledgment of the good favor,” you’ve received from some benevolent source.

This Thanksgiving why not seek to experience more than just a “momentary expression” of thankfulness. Typically, each thanksgiving, we are thankful for everything, right? Well, what if you’ve got some things on your plate you really aren’t very thankful for? Here’s where a shift in thinking can move you to a place where you can become thankful “in” each and every aspect of your life because even your toughest challenges provide an opportunity for you to learn and grow. I challenge you to adjust the way you’re thinking and allow yourself to be moved to a place of gratitude.

Here’s how. Each thanksgiving you’re either a guest or a host. As a guest, maybe you’re expected to enthusiastically tolerate challenging relatives, choke down grandma’s famous (and horrible) lima bean casserole; all the while delivering lavish compliments about each and getting yourself to the place of celebration by braving countless miles of heavy traffic and inclement weather.

As host, perhaps this year you’re really stretching your finances, hoping to pull off the picture perfect, memorable feast that will top whatever was done last year. All the while,you’re crossing fingers behind your back that the aging plumbing holds and Uncle Jim won’t get too blown out on the Wild Turkey. This sort of anxiety ridden anticipation can cause thanksgiving to become a day you’ll struggle to endure, let alone enjoy.

Now, let’s flip this and see what happens when you add a liberal sprinkling of gratitude into your holiday preparations. Try it and you’ll find it’s a rich seasoning indeed, even better than pumpkin pie spice!

Imagine that you, as the host, said, “yes,”when your guests asked if they could bring something. On their arrival, you greet your guests on the doorstep, immediately bestowing them with the gift of your gratitude for their presence in your life, no matter how problematic your relationship with them may be.

This year, you’ve planned to give some control. Once assembled, you hand everyone an apron or a pair of kitchen gloves and pass out their assignments. Now step back and watch how the collaboration fills everyone with a sense of participation and unity, lifting the burden of perfection right off your shoulders. At the end of the day, you feel relaxed.

Or, you’re the guest. Instead of expending energy attempting to veil your dread, you arrive with a determination to smile. You’ve strategized a mission to find at least two things you like about each person present. You place yourself in service to the hosts and assist them with whatever is needed; whether it’s helping grandma set the table or entertaining rambunctious children.

As the celebration continues, it’s you that saves your frenzied host’s apple pie from burning. It’s you who catches the family crystal, just-in-time as it almost takes a tumble when someone bumps the table. It’s youwho holds the youngest member of the family while his mother eats dinner with two hands for the first time in a year! At the end of the day, you feel useful.

OK, so yes, I am asking you to don a pair of rose-colored glasses. I amasking you to decide to see thanksgiving for what it is: just another a day but a day with a good intention, not a day wrought with expectation. Thanksgiving is an opportunity to experience gratitude in the presence of the people you are walking through your life with.

For this one day, see if you can change both your perspective and your actions. When you do you might find that Thanksgiving can be so much more than just a “momentary expression of thanks.” It can be an entryway to a more lasting state of gratitude for the rest of your life.