Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanks Giving: Try a Gratitude Experiment

As you gather with family, friends, and loved ones over the next few days, I challenge you to try a 'Gratitude  Experiment' - see how many times (or how many ways) you can say "thank you" during the day. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
  • Let "thank you" be our response to everything that happens. Yes, even when that favorite dish in the oven burns, or someone fails to do their "fair share" in the preparations (again!), or when something goes wrong or not as expected.
  • Say "thank you" to everything someone says to you (you may need to do this silently, instead of out loud, just so people won't think you've gone nuts!)
  • Play "I'm grateful for....." games with your children (similar to "I spy")
  • Every time you walk through a doorway, or wash your hands, or.... you pick the "reminder" - say a prayer of gratitude.
  • Be the "gratitude leader" if someone's conversation turns to negative things or to complaining, turn around the conversation to a more positive focus. Ask them "what's good about that situation, person, or whatever they were talking about. What do you like about it/him/her?"

Two important things to keep in mind...
  • Family gatherings are not the time for "group therapy." If there are long-standing issues or disagreements, they are not going to get resolved this Thanksgiving (either.) Allow people to be who they are, and practice forgiveness.
  • If it "pushes your button" take a breath, (say 'thank you'), and spend some time in self-reflection, looking more closely at what was underneath the anger, frustration, or whatever emotion came up. (If you can't do it right then, make a mental note to do it later.)
Meister Echkart, German Writer and Theologian(1260-1328) once said:

"If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is 'thank you,' it will be enough."

Try the gratitude experiment and see how it makes a difference in your holiday experience.

Here's to continuing the Journey..... giving thanks, showing gratitude, practicing forgiveness.....