Today, Thanksgiving celebrations involve turkey with dressing, competitive football games, discounted shopping, and family time together. Sadly though, it seems that we have moved away from the true meaning of the holiday. It was President Lincoln who declared it as a time of “thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.” Thanksgiving was originally intended to be a specific day of gratitude. Lincoln had recently led the country through some horrific times. His response to such pain was gratefulness. He understood that appreciation has the power to change the world. “If you are grateful, then you are not fearful. If you are not fearful, then you are not violent. If you are grateful, then you act out of a sense of enough and not a sense of scarcity,” wrote Brother David Steindl-Rast, popular author and Benedictine monk.
This year, why not allow the Thanksgiving holiday to inspire you to have an ongoing awareness of gratitude?
Don’t just say “thanks” over your cranberry sauce and move on. Instead, be intentional to experience true gratitude on that special Thursday. Feel the appreciation for your food, your family, your job, your home, and your problems. Be grateful even if your world isn’t exactly as you have desired. You can’t be thankful for everything, but you can be thankful for everything. How? By deciding to go from simple “thanksgiving” to a type of “thanks living.” This lifestyle starts with focusing on how blessed you already are and then by living in the NOW.
NOW is an acronym with a unique meaning for us:
N is for Near: this tells us to live in the exact moment by being mindful of what is near you. Be present. Think about what is surrounding you. Be grateful. Don’t stress over what you don’t have. Don’t focus on what could happen. Look around and be thankful for what is near now. It could be the birds in the trees, this magazine, the clothes on your body, or the person you met for lunch. Simply be appreciative of what is near.
O is for Oblivious: We can look at what’s near and still miss people, places, and things in which we’re oblivious. Don’t be unaware of your surroundings, your safety, or your senses. There is so much we take for granted. A quick moment to pause and reflect on what you may be oblivious toward will lead to thankfulness for things like oxygen you’re breathing.
W is for Wishes: Always be grateful for what you have presently and what you really wish for. Making a wish isn’t only for children. Instead, it’s healthy to dream, to have goals, and to wish as if things have already happened. Knowing what you want and being thankful in advance will help you see your wishes become reality. WISHES are often fulfilled as you are thankful for what you want, even before you have it.
Living in the NOW—the NEAR, the OBLIVIOUS, and the WISHFUL—is a direct way to tap into the power of gratitude. It makes thankfulness an easy lifestyle and not merely a date on the calendar. “When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around,” said singer Willie Nelson. Start with acknowledging every good thing and then move forward. Allow your consciousness to move away from self or what you already have. Move towards experiencing the feeling of thankfulness. This is a mindset or state of mind, that can bring a deep transformation. Your life will benefit tremendously as you focus on the positive and are thankful for what is NEAR, OBLIVIOUS, and WISHFUL.
Don’t let this year’s Thanksgiving come and go without considering gratitude as a true lifestyle. If America needed appreciation during the times of President Lincoln, then we certainly need it now.