Millions of Americans celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday in November every year. For many, it’s their favorite holiday. A day to spend with family, to give thanks for blessings, and to officially usher in the holiday season.
For me, what stands out as most memorable in Thanksgiving tradition is the mindfulness behind the holiday. Yes, it’s about spending time with loved ones and giving thanks for the bounties in our lives (food and otherwise), but it’s also about the appreciation of every moment spent. For me, it’s savoring flavors and conversation as well as reveling in the little things. For me, it’s taking the time to simply be.
This is perhaps an unusual way of looking at Thanksgiving; however, I believe that mindfulness is a way of practicing the giving of thanks in everyday moments, every day. In focusing on small beauties. In finding positives within challenge. In embracing peace and tranquility and harmony because giving thanks on any level, big or small, can give rise to true and deep happiness.
Tucked away in my Mindfulness file was a piece written over three years ago that’s still very appropriate today. Though the blog focuses on the things mindful people do differently every day, it also shows us why mindful people can more easily find peace and happiness in their lives that, in turn, lead to more thankful lives. Things such as:
- Taking walks. Daily walks give us an opportunity to become one with Mother Nature, to enjoy its delicate balance, and to enjoy all our beautiful planet has to offer.
- Turning daily tasks into mindful moments. Being aware in even the most menial of tasks, such as washing dishes, can offer a profound sense of peace and stillness.
- Creating. Humans all have a creative side and mindfulness boosts creative thinking. And when you engage in creative work, you flow into a state of heightened consciousness.
- Paying attention to breathing. Have you ever focused on your breathing? I mean really focused on it? Take in a long and deep breath and you’ll discover it’s an amazingly warm and sweet thing. Something to truly be thankful for.
- Unitasking. As much as we try to convince ourselves otherwise, humans can’t multi-task. More than that, multi-tasking leads to lack of focus, mistakes, and unnecessary stress. Unitasking, however–focusing on one task for a given period of time–lets the brain work at its best. It also makes us more productive, less pressured, and more fulfilled.
- Knowing when NOT to check your phone. Many of us are addicted to mobile devices. We check them when we’re out to dinner with a spouse. Just before bedtime and just after wake-up. While we’re walking, and even driving. They keep us from truly connecting with others. But putting the phone aside, even for a short time every day, gives us the chance to savor moments we otherwise would miss. And be thankful for.
- Seeking out new experiences. Adventures teach us to be here. They awaken our senses and allow us to embrace both our pleasant and our difficult emotions. To step into the unknown. How exciting!
- Feeling what they’re feeling. Mindfulness isn’t about being happy all the time. It’s about acceptance of the moment we’re in and feeling whatever we feel without trying to resist or control it. As Mother Teresa put it, “Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.”
And there you have it. Ways to incorporate mindfulness practices into your life, every day, so that you can be more thankful. Every day.
Want to read more? Check out 13 Things Mindful People Do Differently Every Day.
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