Six Tips for Having a Thankful Thanksgiving

Ever feel like you didn’t get as much out of Thanksgiving as you wanted? Here are six tips to try to have a truly festive, uplifting and rejuvenating turkey day this year.

• Be mindful. The mindfulness movement blends the best of eastern traditions with western science. In short, it involves paying closer attention to the here and now. It’s remarkable how much doing so can promote peaceful feelings. For example, try eating your first few bites of each type of food slowly. Savor the nuances of the tastes. Try also smelling the food and enjoying its aroma. The same goes for beverages.

• Be calm. Try to create some moments when you breathe deeply into your stomach instead of your chest. At the same time try relax your muscles, settle into the furniture and take in what’s around you. Notice the details: the beauty of someone’s hair, the love you feel for someone, a wonderful smile.

• Be thankful. There are so many ways to do this. Write and deliver a gratitude letter. (This can also be done as a family exercise.) Encourage everyone to say something they are thankful for before digging in at mealtime. Let your Higher Power know about that which you are thankful. Try to linger in the glow of such thoughts.

• Be patient. Thanksgiving often produces stress on those responsible for aspects of the day, on relationships that are not peaceful, and on those who may be hurting going into the day. If irritations flare, try to not react in kind. Instead, try to appreciate the human condition explaining the irritation and be soft and gentle, even if it means turning the other cheek. (By the way the psychological wisdom behind the concept of turning the other cheek recently occurred to me. When one doesn’t turn the other cheek, the resulting activity consumes one’s life.)

• Be affirming. Proportionate and specific praise for things you believe can create uplifting moments for both you and the person you are affirming (i.e., instead of keeping such thoughts to yourself). I know when I’m the recipient of such, I try to create ways to remember the moment so that I can unpack it when I’m soul weary.

• Be kind. So often these days don’t go off as planned. Try to be a person who lets everyone know that that’s okay (including yourself) and even to be expected. Problems are like dust mites, they are woven into our existence. (I like the saying: “People make plans and God chuckles.”)  However, if I clench my fists at the heavens and protest why a problem is happening I now must suffer two kinds of pain: the pain imbued within the problem and the pain of my reaction to the problem. It’s remarkable how often kindness works, both towards oneself and towards others.

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