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Post-Thanksgiving but Not Post-Thankful

on November 28, 2014

I hope that you all had a lovely Thanksgiving yesterday.  I enjoyed being with friends who are part of my work family.  We shared each other’s company, good will, and delicious food.  While I ate a little too much, I didn’t stuff.  I also enjoyed a few, satisfied internal chuckles when I compared my plate yesterday with what I used to heap on a plate and devour in the years before weight loss surgery.  It’s all perspective and stomach size that determines what’s too much these days.

Today, I’m engaged in what has become a mini-tradition — the post-Thanksgiving three-day detox.  I follow a plan that I discovered a couple of years ago on Dr. Oz which involves drinking four vegetable-fruit-nut-seed based drinks a day for three days along with some green tea.  The first time I did this detox, I felt really great during and after the three days.  I think the plan gives my body some relief, flushes out some icky stuff and, somehow, resets my metabolism.  Whatever the case, a few days of healthy drinks sure can’t hurt.

We’re closing in on the end of November.  Every day I’ve continued to acknowledge something(s) or someone or several someones for which I am grateful.  Even though it’s after that day of Thanksgiving, I am by no means past the time when I feel thankful.

I’ve known for years that embracing gratitude helps me, but I’ve never truly delved into figuring out why this is so.  I see various self-help leaders promote gratitude, read quotes all over the internet and, still, don’t know why gratitude is so often suggested.

So today I started Googling to see what I could learn.  Overall, the consensus is that gratitude is, indeed, a powerful force.

This blog post here has what I thought were great ideas, and also some useful suggestions.  The fact that it is not from a well-known self-help “guru”, but from someone who is a corporate coach for potential entrepreneurs did not detract from the message.  I particularly like what it says about expanding our focus, turning on our  natural well-being, and allowing ourselves to unconditionally accept and celebrate ourselves.

Then there’s this article by Robert Emmons, who is touted as a leading scientific expert on gratitude.  I’m interested in what he says and plan to look into his books.  This link goes to a site for the Greater Good Science Center, affiliated with the University of Berkeley.   I love that there is something called the Greater Good Science Center and need to poke around on the site some more.  Among other things in the article, Dr. Emmons says, “Gratitude also goes against our need to feel in control of our environment. Sometimes with gratitude you just have to accept life as it is and be grateful for what you have.”

That really resonates with me and connects to an important aspect of my 12 Step program.  In the Serenity Prayer, we ask for the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.  Serenity starts with acceptance.  It looks like gratitude fosters acceptance, so it stands to reason that it might be a stepping stone to serenity.

There are several more sites and articles, but it sounds like they all have variations on the things I read at these two sites.  I enjoyed taking the information in, absorbing it and pondering what it means to me, how it feels, and what I can take away from it and use in my own life’s journey.

Along the way, I started thinking of the optimist-pessimist description of whether one sees a glass as half-full or half-empty.  For the most part, I think of myself as an optimist, but sometimes life throws challenges and painful situations at even the most optimistic of us.  Those times are the ones when I know I most need to dig down and connect with my gratitude.  At those moments it doesn’t matter whether the glass is half-full or half-empty.  I need to be thankful that I have a glass at all.

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One response to “Post-Thanksgiving but Not Post-Thankful

  1. hoperoth says:

    I think that gratitude, optimism, and resilience all go hand in hand (and hand!). I am trying pretty hard these days to cultivate all three.

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