[Originally published in Woodbury Bulletin on 11/22/2006]
Tomorrow, Americans around the country will be celebrating Thanksgiving Day.
When we think about Thanksgiving, we often think about this once-a-year event with a Thanksgiving feast of stuffed turkey, yams, potatoes, green beans and pumpkin pie. It’s a holiday of family and friends gathering together.
I think Thanksgiving is more than a once-a-year event - it is a way of life.
Thanksgiving is about gratitude. It is about giving thanks to God.
When President Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thursday in November as a national day of Thanksgiving in 1863, he proclaimed it “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”
In 1941, Congress introduced the legislation and established Thanksgiving Day as the fourth Thursday in November.
Thanksgiving is about appreciating the people in our lives and being thankful for what we have received in life.
We have so much in this country and so much good happens to us. Yet in the rush of daily life, we fail to notice and acknowledge it. We often take things for granted.
If we focus our attention on the good and positive, focus on what we have, not what we lack, we can experience a life with contentment and joy. We don’t need to fill our life with material stuff to make us feel good.
One year ago on Thanksgiving Day 2005, I made a conscious decision to start a gratitude journal. I was inspired by the following words Oprah wrote in one of her "O Magazine" articles.
“Keep a grateful journal. Every night, list five things that you are grateful for. What it will begin to do is change your perspective of your day and your life.”
At that time I felt my life was in need of change. I wanted to cultivate an attitude of gratitude, nurture a grateful heart and a spirit of thankfulness. I wanted to bring myself closer to my soul and to God.
I wanted to count God’s blessings in my life and to focus my attention on the positive side of life. I wanted to be mindful and more aware of even little things happening every day. I wanted to live a more authentic life.
Since last Thanksgiving, I have been writing regularly in my journal and have filled several journals. The writing itself is a tool that declutters my mind and brings out the creativity within. My journey to the inside has drawn me closer to my authentic self and God. It has transformed my life in a profound way.
I was baptized in September this year. I am thankful for being a child of God who loves me despite of my shortcomings. I am thankful for being a part of God’s family.
I am becoming a more grateful person. I write more thank-you notes to people. When people have done something nice for me, I want to show my appreciation.
When I say thank you, it not only makes the receiver feel good, it makes me feel good too.
I count my blessings every day as I write in my journal. I am more mindful of what’s happening in my life.
The more grateful I am, the more reasons I have to be grateful. I find more joy in life.
Here is something I would like you to try: Start a gratitude journal.
Every night, before you go to sleep, write down a few things that you are grateful for that day. Start to count your blessings.
Remember, Thanksgiving is not a once-a-year event, but a way of life. Learn to be thankful every day.
As the result of having a thankful heart, you life will be richer and more joyful.
I wish you all a happy and blessed Thanksgiving Day tomorrow and every day of the year.