I hope you all are enjoying the change of the seasons. As the leaves fall, the sky gets larger, the nights grow longer. The stars seem brighter and more prevalent, and the outside world becomes more still as the birds and insects disappear. An exciting change is in the air.
Thanksgiving is also upon us. This is one of my favorite holidays because it serves as a reminder to look at all there is to be grateful for. I am grateful for my family and friends, for their love and support. I am grateful that I have come to see how much love there is in the simplest act. I am grateful for this beautiful planet we inhabit. I am grateful for technology that has enabled me to connect with so many people from my past and present.
At the most basic level, I am grateful that I exist. What a miraculous gift! How is it even possible to express enough gratitude for my pure existence? I am also grateful for all of the great teachings that have come into my life, which have led me to appreciate all there is. Everywhere I look I can see things to be grateful for – if I look close enough. I would like to encourage all of you to look at all of the little things there are to be grateful for as well.
Many of us have mixed feelings about coming together with friends and family over the holidays. Some are eager to reunite, and some are a bit reluctant (or a combination of both). It can be a time of stress when it comes to preparations that need to be made. We want everything to be just right. We love it when things go our way. But things don’t always go the way we want, which causes stress. I encourage you to recognize when this happens and be grateful that things are always going exactly the way they are supposed to, whether it coincides with our plans or not. Gratitude is the greatest stress reliever.
If the casserole gets burned, or the turkey gets overcooked, or someone forgets to bring dessert, be grateful. Things have gone exactly as they are supposed to and you’ve been given a great opportunity to realize and appreciate that. If disagreements happen among family members over politics or other family matters, another opportunity for growth has arisen. Once you realize that life could be no other way than it is right now, true forgiveness can occur. When we forgive, gratitude is a natural byproduct. This gratitude stems from not having to bear the heavy burden of resentment and anger. If we recognize that we are acting out of anger or frustration, we can then forgive ourselves and experience the gratitude of being forgiven.
As I was writing this, an Eckhart Tolle quote crossed my path. “Forgiveness happens naturally once you realize that your grievance serves no purpose except to strengthen a false sense of self (ego). Forgiveness is to offer no resistance to life – to allow life to live through you. The alternatives are pain and suffering, a greatly restricted flow of life energy, and in many cases physical disease.”
To truly forgive is to rid yourself of the burdensome weight of the past. Holding on to the past – whether that be 5 minutes ago or 5 years ago – will only lead to more suffering. To forgive and forget is to bring attention back to the only moment we will ever have: Now. Be thankful for Now by recognizing it as the one thing that matters.