by Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, 11/20/14

Thanksgiving is both a Christian practice and a holiday. I love Thanksgiving—the turkey, the family gatherings, the parade. It is a great day that happens once a year that requires planning, hospitality and love.
Giving thanks, however, is a kind of mindfulness that should happen every day. When we give thanks, we recognize something that is already true about the world—everything we have is a gift from God. Why is it so easy to focus on those areas of our life that seem less than blessed?
A.J. Jacobs is one of those performance art/documentarians who tries a new practice for a year and writes about it. He wrote a book about reading the Encyclopedia Britannica in one year and another about living biblically, in a very literal way. While many of his practices take following the Bible literally to an absurd level, he found that the biblical command to live thankfully really affected him.
“[In] my obsession with gratefulness, I can't stop,” he writes. “I press the elevator button and am thankful that it arrives quickly. I get onto the elevator and am thankful that the elevator cable didn't snap and plummet me to the basement. I go to the fifth floor and am thankful that I didn't have to stop on the second or third or fourth floor.” The more you practice thankfulness, the more you are mindful of being thankful. Jacobs found it to be a powerful life practice, simply naming his thankfulness in all things. “I've never before been so aware of the thousands of little good things, the thousands of things that go right every day.”
Consider all that goes right and well in your life and try to note and name these gifts.  It is too easy to focus on the critical or negative things happening in our lives. In the words of that familiar hymn, try to “count your blessings, name them one by one.” If you do, you will find that these blessings have a way of multiplying.
Happy Thanksgiving, Highland Hills.