giving thanks

It's a simple thing; giving thanks.

And yet, we aren't always able to do it graciously or honestly.

Often, it is given as a forgotten token; a dismissive acknowledgment based on social expectation rather than sincere contemplation. 

Around the table we go, rhyming off our thanks as if we're reading a grocery list: 

Kids...check.

Spouse...check.

Friends...check.

Food...check. 

Health...check. 

Phew.

Done for another year. 

And why do we even give thanks?

Well... perhaps the answer is hidden within the word thank-ful.

We become FULL of thanks.

We become FULL. 

Replete. 

Satisfied. 

Content.

And within that state of mind, the world and our lives become extraordinary. 

There are times, however, when it seems as if there is NO THING for which to be thankful. 

When in that state of mind, the world and our lives become painful.

I know both states well. 

Years ago, I began a gratitude journal.

I thought it would help me become more grateful. 

I thought it would help me become a happier person. 

I failed to consider, appreciate, or understand, however, the pattern of habitual thought that had heretofore preoccupied my mind. 

Suffice to say, by the sixth consecutive night of doggedly transcribing my gratitudes into a specially purchased journal, my original list of 10 was whittled down to a mere 5 (I'm being generous here as some items were variations of the same thing)... such was the state of my mind.

All those years ago, I had no real understanding of the nature of thought and its role in our lives.

At that time... 

I thought the world operated as an outside-in model; things happen in the outside world that cause me to feel something on the inside

As a result of this misunderstanding, I perpetually felt at the mercy of 

circumstances

moods

and

people.

Everything seemed out of my control! 

I felt the victim of my life; powerless, helpless, and frustrated. 

My pattern of thought focused predominantly on the

past or the future

with its

real or imagined

struggles, regrets, mistakes, and missed opportunities. 

Little did I know, 

responsibility for my feelings had been placed in the wrong hands. 

Little did I know,

the power thought had to create my feelings.

Little did I know,

the role state of mind played in the creation of my reality. 

Little did I know. 

It was only in my quest to understand myself that I discovered the secret to my freedom. 

As it turns out, we're all born with this secret... it just gets buried under a pile of thought and belief and misunderstanding. 

It's all very innocent.  

Freedom comes in realizing that how you feel directly corresponds to your thoughts in the moment. 

Freedom comes in realizing that we create our reality, and as such...our lives...through thought  moment by moment.

Freedom comes in realizing that not all thought needs to be believed or acted upon. 

Freedom comes in realizing that neither circumstances nor people nor anything outside of our selves can control how we feel - that responsibility rests solely within our own minds. 

Realizing that...

all of that

 ...IS freedom. 

That is where we get to decide what something will mean.

That is where we get to decide which thoughts warrant our attention and which do not.

Freedom comes in the realization that despite appearances,

the world is inside-out, not outside-in;

we see and feel

what we think

we see and feel.

And with that realization and that freedom

comes the grace and ability to bear witness to all that we may truly give thanks.

And that list is endless. 

Happy American Thanksgiving, dear readers.