Thanksgiving weekend is upon us and you really can’t go wrong with a holiday that has stuffing as a side dish and involves gravy as an acceptable topping, whether you’re eating turkey or tofurkey.
Also, you can’t go wrong with a holiday that continues to promote gratitude, because we could all use more of that. Essentially, Thanksgiving is an inclusive holiday that everybody can get behind and still get Monday off. It’s perfect, really.
I’m someone who appreciates the philosophy that the glass is neither half full nor half empty, but in fact just a glass that I’m going to have to wash eventually (I wish somebody would stop leaving their dishes around the house).
I can appreciate that on challenging days it can be hard to find gratitude in the little things, like say, the ability to soak your hands in hot, soapy water, washing dishes you own that held water that came right out of the tap, because you live in a place where safe drinking water is accessible.
Some days, when you have had a bad day at work, your cat threw up on your bed, and your bank statement reads “you suck at basic accounting,” it’s really hard to be grateful.
I am a pessimistic optimist, so to keep some semblance of balance I keep a gratitude journal. Every morning and night I write in it, without fail. In the morning, I list three things I am grateful for and three goals for the day, followed by a personal mantra. Not easy for a morning person. It often reads as follows: “I love my pillow. The fellow who kept me up throughout the night with his symphonic snoring isn’t too bad either. I am glad I have a job so I can fix my ‘accounting’ issues.” Simple.
Three things that will make the day great? Winning the lottery, spending my lottery winnings and going on tour with the Rolling Stones seem like lofty goals. In the interest of tangible reality, I ask the muse to help me write well, for there to be zero drama in my day, followed by a relaxed evening at home. My mantra is short: “I am blessed and I will remember that today, no matter what.”
And then “no matter what” usually happens. The day seems to unravel faster than I can start the car. That’s the test. That’s what the practice of gratitude is all about. In the middle of the bad news, the mishaps, the politics of people and the games we play, can I find my pebbles of gratitude? Or am I going to pick up a big rock and start smashing windows. Tempting, so tempting, but let’s focus on gratitude. Sometimes it’s work.
Gratitude is like a muscle and you have to exercise it so your brain can flex that muscle when you are confounded with the dishes left on the table, cat fur balls on your duvet and the reality that your dreadful accounting skills mean you will basically be working forevermore.
I end every day grateful for the glass, the water and the man who washed the dishes so I could go write. I love my pillow. I survived the day. I am still blessed, no matter what.
Practice gratitude. Exercise the muscle. Make the choice to look for light in the dark. And accept that sometimes it is work. Keep looking, no matter what.