We’ve made it through the Thanksgiving holiday! We have recounted the hundreds of ways to cook a ham, dozens of ways to keep a turkey from getting dry and 6 ways to keep turkey dressing moist. And we are reminded there’s only one way to keep cranberry sauce from being too tangy and only 2 kinds of eggnog worth buying. And we have celebrated the joys of sharing gratitude with family and friends. But what happens after the designated “Thanksgiving Day” is over?
Our blog this week is not about preparing a turkey or recommending the perfect eggnog. It’s about turning thanksgiving into thanksliving! It’s about giving thanks and living thankfully each consecutive moment of now.
Thanksliving is about relaxing in a hammock. Or lounging in a lawn chair. Or propping your feet up in a recliner.
It’s about playing ball with a child, or giggling with a youngster until both of you are giggled out. It’s about laughing good-naturedly at something silly you have done. It’s about lending a hand to people you don’t even know who have lost everything in a hurricane or flood or fire.
It’s about taking time out of your busy schedule to call someone just to say, “Thanks for being such a good friend.”
It’s about affirming your own health and well-being. It’s about giving thanks for the blessings you receive every day.
These examples of thanksliving are all leading to the following invitation: Cher and I invite you to move beyond simply giving thanks and begin living your thanks as a way of life.
Thanksliving must extend to an acknowledgement that everything which comes into our conscious awareness is part of us. People, places, and things are projections in our on-going human journey to understand our relationship with our higher, more transcendent Self, which is the Christ expressing Itself as us.
Cultivating a consistent consciousness of thanksgiving by becoming aware of the myriad opportunities to express your gratitude and praise is the essence of thanksliving.
Thanksliving unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough. It turns tolerance into acceptance and confusion into clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, and a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes peace with the past, adds humility to the present, and underwrites our prosperity in the future.
Gratitude is a total body, mind, and soul experience. It comes from that part of the brain – the amygdala – that registers ‘soul’ experiences. So, when we walk along our favorite beaches and feel the sand under our feet and the breeze blowing through our hair, or drive along our favorite stretch of highway, or step out of our homes at night and admire the canopy of stars overhead, or enjoy the news that a friend has just experienced remission from stage 4 cancer, our souls sing and our bodies are revitalized with streams of dopamine and serotonin, the biological gifts of gratitude.
Gratitude journals and other gratitude practices often seem so simple and basic. But there’s power in being basic when it comes to being grateful. In his wonderfully compelling book, Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, Robert Emmons shares how keeping a gratitude journal for just three weeks can bring overwhelming wellness benefits. He reports, “We’ve studied more than one thousand people, from ages eight to 80, and found that people who practice gratitude consistently report a host of benefits:
- Physical: Stronger immune systems, less bothered by aches and pains, lower blood pressure, exercise more and take better care of their health, sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking.
- Psychological: Higher levels of positive emotions, more alertness, alive and awake, more joy and pleasure, more optimism and happiness.
- Social: More helpful, generous and compassionate, more forgiving, more outgoing, feel less lonely and isolated.”
So you see, feeling gratitude on a regular basis heals us at a cellular level – mentally and physically. It also heightens our sociability and soothes our emotions. Being grateful is not Pollyanna and, as you can see from the studies we’ve just shared, it’s not to be taken lightly. It’s serotonin to our soul and dopamine for our life extension.
As we leave Thanksgiving behind and move into the Christmas holidays, bring your gratitude with you and make thanksliving a way of life, as you walk the Spiritual path on practical feet!About the author: Rev. Dr. Bil Holton is a metaphysician, prolific author, and dynamic speaker. Learn more by visiting him at www.TheMetaphysicalWebsite.com