Back in college I listened to a talk by one of the professors—I think it was Susan Easton Black—in which she talked about what we would do if the stars came out only once a decade. We would celebrate. We would have events leading up to it. We’d have special star night practices. We’d all find a great place to view the stars on star night. We would have a sense of wonder; we’d be filled with awe.
We would be grateful for that night with the stars.
But since we get them every night, it takes some effort on our part to see the wonder in them. When we do, we are still filled with awe.
|Milky Way and Arches, by photographer |
G Brad Lewis, who records moments of awe
every day. From his Facebook page. His work
can be found online at VolcanoMan.com
So I’m looking at what it takes to get that feeling. I know that gratitude is involved—feeling thankful.
Last May when we were in London, there was a challenging day. It was rainy and cold—very cold for us Texans. It was our day to do the Big Bus tour. But because of the weather the traffic was stalled throughout the city. It was often a half hour wait between sites mentioned by the headset tour guide. The only place we had time to get off and tour was St. Paul’s Cathedral, which was well worth it, but we were disappointed, yet again, to run out of time for Westminster (we never did get to do that).
It was the kind of day the I’m prone to get irritable about. Cold, and traffic, and having to change plans as we go along. But, I wasn’t irritable. I kept thinking, “We’re in London! How cool is that!” I just wanted to enjoy every moment we were there, so there was no time, no place in life, for irritability and frustration. That’s something I need to feel more in the regular day-to-day life.
Mental health experts, self-help gurus, and lots of just plain good people can tell you that purposely being grateful is good for your brain and for your health. One common suggestion is a thankfulness journal: you write three (or however many you choose) things to be grateful for at the end of every day. Another approach is to make the list part of your meditation, or prayer. Prayer works for me; I know I’ll get in the thankfulness when I do that.
One of the reasons Thanksgiving Day is a favorite holiday is that we spend time together with loved ones, thinking about what we’re thankful for, and expressing it. We can just enjoy being together, and celebrating that.
If that’s the attitude we keep through the rest of the holiday season, that will make all our celebrations more meaningful and much less stressful and frustrating.
If we can do that through Christmas and the New Year, maybe we can make a habit of it. We could find ourselves Living in Thanksgiving. And that’s just a better life to live.
This video from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reminds us of the value of Thanksgiving Daily, available here (under two minutes).