It's interesting and ironic how in America we have this annual ritual of giving thanks for all that we have by consuming large quantities of food then going out the next day to buy more things that we don't need.
However, to be thankful is to be content, which is to say that one is satisfied--they have enough.
But what kind of looks do you think you might get from your family and friends gathered around the table when you stop eating after only one serving of Thanksgiving dinner? Imagine the reaction you might receive after announcing: "I'm satisfied; I don't need any more food. Oh, by the way, I'm not joining you for Black Friday shopping tomorrow because I already have enough things; and so do all of you! Why don't we give money to charity instead this year?"
Are you laughing yet? I am. However, what makes this little anecdote not so funny a moment later is that, although it sounds like a joke, it's not really a joke.
I won't suggest here that we Americans change the entire tradition of Thanksgiving but I do propose that we do our best to help our fellow Americans and friends around the world to really think about the essence of the word and act of thanksgiving, not just the holiday. Let's celebrate the tradition once per year and indulge in a few well-deserved small pleasures; but let's also do our best to remain thankful every single day of our lives.
Will you join me?
Try to incorporate into your daily life some type of thanksgiving routine. You can say aloud, pray, read or meditate on something that reminds you of how thankful you are to be alive one more day, to have your health, your mind, your family, your friends, your garden, your music and anything and everything that gives you true wealth and fulfillment.
An annual tradition that I've continued for at least 5 years on this blog is to share some of my favorite quotes on thanksgiving and contentment:
"I love to go and see all the things I am happy without." ~ Socrates
"As you walk and eat and travel, be where you are. Otherwise you will miss most of your life." ~ Buddha
"We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have." ~ Frederick Keonig
"Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for." ~ Epicurus
"If thou wilt make a man happy, add not unto his riches but take away from his desires." ~ Epicurus
"Money often costs too much." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
"Freedom is not procured by a full enjoyment of what is desired, but by controlling the desire." ~ Epictetus
"What is important in life is life, and not the result of life." ~ Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
"There is no calamity greater than lavish desires. There is no greater guilt than discontent. And there is no greater disaster than greed." ~ Lau Tzu"
"Slow down and the thing you are chasing will come around and catch you." ~ Zen saying
"My opinion is that you never find happiness until you stop looking for it." ~ Zhuangzi
"The wise man knows that it is better to sit on the banks of a remote mountain stream than to be emperor of the whole world." ~ Zhuangzi
One year a reader said he printed the quotes from my Thanksgiving blog post, cut them out separately, and then had his Thanksgiving guests each draw one from a hat and read it aloud. That can be an impactful beginning to my Thanksgiving proposal.
Give thanks and be thankful every day. You will soon notice a positive difference in your life and in the lives of those around you.
Related: The American Awakening