With Thanksgiving just around the corner, and a post-election cloud of tension hovering over the world, it’s easy to get lost in our own stories, our own fears, and our own problems. As of this moment, it’s too early to tell whether health insurance costs will go up or down, and whether we will recover our social and cultural dignity. But one of the roles of rituals is to get us out of our current situation and into a new one. And there is no more uniting, non-religious, and non-political ritual in America than Thanksgiving. Gratitude is healing. And here is how you can tap into that healing power this Thanksgiving.
1. Be thankful for the food.
It’s easy to feel thankful for food, especially if you have it. There are many people in our country and around the world who don’t have food. It’s not because we need to grow more food, it’s because there is not enough money for them to buy food or a lot of political instability that prevents access to food. If you have food on your table this Thanksgiving, don’t forget to give thanks for it. Better yet, share food with others who don’t have it.
2. Be thankful for the people who grew the food.
It’s common to romanticize the farmer. And some of us might be fortunate enough to know the farmers who grew our food—or are farmers and gardeners ourselves. But more likely than not, if you bought any of the food on your table at the supermarket, it involved a vast chain of growers, pickers, and farmers around the world. It most likely involved migrant workers, many of whom are immigrants. It probably involved people in other countries earning cents, not dollars, per hour to bring you affordable food. It also probably involved people who are struggling to put enough food on their own tables. Appreciate them with all your heart.
3. Be thankful for the people who brought you the food.
Again, if you are lucky, your food arrived by truck to your local farmers’ market, driven by the farmer who grew it. Very few of us are so lucky. Bringing Americans the food we eat involves boats, trains, planes, trucks, factories, factory workers, and manufacturers—all trying to make a living for their families. I believe generosity is the fuel that drives a healthy economy. If we are generous with each other, there will always be plenty to go around. If we are frugal with each other, we shrink the whole economy. Our generosity always benefits the whole, which benefits us. Be thankful for the generosity of everyone who brought you your food.
4. Be thankful for each other.
There are many families who have divided views of the world and of what is important. Our families are our miniature worlds we get to manage as if they are countries. Understanding rage—which is often hurt and fear—and understanding each other’s pain can lead to a deeper appreciation and healing. We all need healing right now. And if we have trouble healing our families, how can we expect a country to heal? If we don’t respect and honor each other, how can we expect a government to respect and honor us? Respect, gratitude, and love start with those closest to us and then spread outward. Begin right now to lead yourself with love, respect, and gratitude and watch the world change around you.
5. Be thankful for the moment.
We can’t know what tomorrow will bring (although we can dream). We can’t change what happened yesterday or the day before (don’t waste any time on regret). All we can do is appreciate and be grateful for this moment. If you are reading this, you are still alive. If you are reading this, you can find hope in your heart. If you are reading this, you can share gratitude and love. If you are reading this, I want you to know that it’s up to each one of us to create the future we want to live in. But the most important thing you can do is be thankful for this moment. Feel the love and gratitude in your heart. And have faith in our future because, like generosity fueling abundance, faith fuels a happier future for everyone. And gratitude makes everything better.