Let Go of Thanksgiving Stress with Gratitude

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Gratitude is what we’re supposed to be practicing, why are we still stressed?

It’s that time of year again, when families get together and celebrate Thanksgiving (at least in the US). The problem is, however, that while we’re supposed to be grateful, there seems to be a lot of stress going around. Whether it’s political, family, financial, or otherwise, this whole stress thing is killing us and it’s time to stop it, now!

It’s time to relax, accept, and be grateful for what we have. I’m pretty good at managing my stress thanks to all the great tools I’ve learned over time. Some of them you know, yoga, meditation, exercise, sleep, proper nutrition, etc. But I definitely get stressed once in a while and it’s usually because I fill my plate with too many appointments or too many things on my to do list. Sometimes I try to bite off way more than I can chew. You may have a similar problem.

Then that little old friend, stress, starts to bubble up and it expresses itself in unhealthy ways. For instance, I become short with my wife. It’s totally unnecessary and has nothing to do with her, but my cup is overflowing and I’m beyond my breaking point. I’m good about correcting my unhealthy behavior, but I want to get to a place where I don’t have that kind of interaction at all. This doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does I want to make sure I look at it, see if I can learn from the experience, and improve as a man, husband, father, and human.

Here a few key things I practice to help me get better.

Self-awareness

This might be the ultimate way to become a better person. You have to get to know how you operate. I like to make sure I’m not too hungry, not too tired, not too angry. If I am, I need to correct the situation or slow down. I need to eat if I’m hungry, sleep or chill out if I’m too tired, and if I’m angry I must tap into the place of love and compassion inside myself. I know that’s easier said than done, but it does get easier over time.

Practicing Gratitude As Often As Possible

I’m fascinated when I meet someone on a plane or at my studio, or at any social event, and we begin small talk chatting about this or that and I’m struck by where our conversation goes. Most times it’s not toward the fact that it’s a miracle we woke up. It’s not about the fact that there are trillions of cells in our body that make us tick and it’s so mind blowing that experts and doctors can’t even figure out how to cure the common cold. It’s not about the simple amazing things in life. Often times the small talk bypasses the miraculous. A sure fire way to stay grateful is to acknowledge the simple and miraculous.

Express Loving Kind Thoughts

This is a great practice to get into, I find that sharing my positive thoughts with people, about people, always surprises them. For instance, complimenting your spouse for simply being them. Expressing your joy and gratitude for those simple things. I assume you love your children, tell them. My dad never told me he loved me and while I’ve been able to deal with that over time, I wish he had the capacity to express his love.

We are all humans here on this planet for a very short time. Thanksgiving is one of an infinity of opportunities to be grateful. I’m sitting writing this from a porch on Hana. This Thanksgiving, my family and a few friends decided to spend our time here. It’s a remote town on the island of Maui in Hawaii. We’re relaxing, rejuvenating, and expressing our gratitude for the simple things in life. I’m happy about the cool breeze, the sunrise, the fresh air and the fact that my wife is reading her book beside me and our little girl is playing with her stuffed animals. Happy Thanksgiving, may you always find gratitude in your life.

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