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A Heart of Thanksgiving

It’s easy to let the logistics of Thanksgiving get you into a rut. Cooking a large meal isn’t easy, you may have to travel quite a ways to be with loved ones, your kids might take advantage of your distracted state and act up, and that’s assuming nothing else is weighing on your mind. Maybe there is a situation at work or in your personal life that is relegating the joyous activities of Thanksgiving to be nothing more than a veneer masking your true feelings. No matter what, if you’re reading this, there is plenty to be thankful for, but like so many worthwhile things in life, it will require work.

I learned a great trick to help me with my attitude many years ago. Not that I had a bad one, but sometimes even the most optimistic people have one of those days. I had a job in customer service where my performance depended entirely on my ability to convey a sunny disposition, even amidst frustrations. Any time I wasn’t speaking with a customer I would play a thought game where I would try and get myself to smile or laugh out loud. It sounds easy and perhaps a bit odd, but it’s much trickier than you think. I’m not talking about pulling up the sides of your mouth to force a smile, or merely vibrating your vocal chords to cough up something that sounds like laughter – I’m talking genuine happiness.

Maybe this particular method doesn’t work for you, but it illustrates a point, despite heavy suggestion from outside factors, it is really up to you how you feel, and thanksgiving is an attitude or feeling, not just a day. It can be so easy to focus on something that fails to meet your expectations and just fester. Zero in on thoughts and perceptions that relax you, even as you are working, walking, or sitting. Let the inevitable imperfections roll off your back like water off of a duck’s back. To those content to be miserable, this won’t shake you out of your funk. Like the adage used in the rehabilitation from any bad habit, you have to genuinely want to change. Remember, you are always getting better at something, so it might as well be something worthwhile or that makes you happy.

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