Thanksgiving is a day to give gratitude for the fall harvest. It dates back to 1621 and celebrates the first meeting between the English colonizers and the Wampanoag Native American tribe. Since then, every year, people come together to give thanks for what has been provided. (The actual history of the meeting between the first English settlers and native peoples is actually far more complicated, but the family celebration survives.)
Thanksgiving is usually celebrated with an elaborate meal. In the U.S., it traditionally features a roasted turkey with stuffing, accompanied by gravy, cranberry sauce, yams, mashed potatoes, vegetables, and pumpkin pie for dessert. People in various parts of the country add their own regional touches, of course; for example, in the South, African American families include chitterlings, collard greens, cabbage, cornbread, black-eyed peas, and pecan pie to the mix. And there’s nothing to stop us from feasting on a delicious vegetarian alternative, either.
What nicer than a family feast to give thanks? Gratitude is such an important thing to recognize, and more relevant and valuable than ever now in these days of rampant greed and exploitation. Yes, we do strive and work hard on ourselves, furthering our strengths, working on our weaknesses and accentuating our wellbeing, but we also need to keep breathing deeply, to stop and appreciate what this wonderful world has given us. Wholistic Wellbeing is scarce, but gratitude doesn’t have to be: through celebrating, we can relax and allow ourselves to be together and feel how blessed we are to be alive. That’s the true meaning of Thanksgiving.
Being grateful helps us become more complete human beings. Without gratitude, we become anxious and may feel out of control. With gratitude, we become worry-free and more generous.
Gratitude implies an openness to others and what they can offer, too. To be grateful is to listen to others and the world around us, hearing the energy that moves people, the energy that provides. It reminds us to be less selfish.
Selfishness is often erroneously pinpointed as a hallmark of the liberal wellbeing lifestyle, with detractors criticizing what they see as self-indulgence and egocentrism. You may also ask yourself: “isn’t it all a bit selfish to constantly think about how we’re doing?” On the contrary! It’s a recognition that there is something larger out there than ourselves in this universe that provides. To be grateful is to feel part of a beautiful world, our amazing universe. To be grateful is to tamp down an ego that feels that it is the center of everything, that wants to take credit for all good things.
We cannot treat this world like an automatic provider of natural resources in perpetuity. Gratitude helps us toward developing the attitude of a constant gardener, where we are caretakers, guardians, parents, to what we have been given — this sacred Planet Earth.
It’s up to us to become part of the whole that includes others and the world. It’s that symbiotic relationship that a lifestyle of Wholistic Wellbeing cultivates, where we are nurturing and growing within ourselves — both spiritually and emotionally — while caring for the world around us. This is at the core of my Wholistic Wellbeing vision.