Being thankful actually amplifies the good; the good things in our lives, the good people in our lives and even the good in us. What better time than the holidays to practice these skills. We can strengthen the ability to recognize the gifts in life. We can, over time, learn to better notice the beauty around us, to ground ourselves in that beauty. We can learn how to slow down and savor the goodness. There is so much beauty during the holiday season to relish and enjoy; the lights, ornaments, candles in a window and childrens’ faces. The beauty of the relationships in our lives is a gift we give ourselves. One that comes from the heart. The time that we spend with each other is a gift that we can give during the holidays, even if we don’t see someone but once a year. We grow to understand that many people have helped us along the way, providing us with what we couldn’t do for ourselves. As we grow older, we no longer take people for granted. We realize that we are deeply connected with the people in our past and present. They have helped bring us where we are today.This develops into a sense of gratitude. Gratitude for the person we have become and the person we are going to be.
Speaking of Gratitude…gratitude is more than just a feeling. We can just be grateful or we can practice gratitude. Practicing gratitude is an overall approach to life. We are learning to see through a different lens; a lens of abundance rather than scarcity. We can’t be anxious, (envious, angry, worried, etc.) and grateful at the same time. Gratitude is an attitude consciously cultivated; an orientation, which can eventually become a habit. The more we practice gratitude, the more often we experience it and the deeper we experience it. Being thankful is a choice we can make in any given moment.
So enjoy your senses during the holidays. They can lead you to practicing gratitude. Taste the varieties of food, lovingly prepared; delight in the tiny white lights strung along the streets; revel in the deep winter colors, the sumptuous velvets and rich brocades. Celebrate the changing of the seasons and create rituals that fulfill and sustain you. Bring out the flannel sheets, the fire logs and the candles. Savor the beauty of the world around you.
As we gather with friends and family during the holidays, many have feelings of being deeply connected with those we love. We feel a sense of belonging. We go out at night; we visit each other in our homes; we dress up and go out on the town, we enjoy good entertainment. We connect with some of the people in our lives only once a year around this time. Plan ahead for the holidays, scheduling events you look forward to with people you enjoy. Take the time to relish and savor the gifts in your life this holiday season.
Waking up this morning, I see the blue sky.
I join my hands in thanks
For the many wonders of life
For having twenty-four brand new hours before me.
– Thich Nhat Hanh