Tov l’hodot. It is good to give thanks. (Psalm 92)
Thanksgiving is here. Is it about giving thanks? Is it about giving? It may be hard to tell what is hidden behind the huge turkey and the elaborate plans for the big shopping days.
It is too bad we are distracted from focusing on thanking, because making time to thank is an important activity. It turns out that giving thanks and appreciating are really good for us. They are good for our overall well-being. Even during hard times and in difficult situations, gratitude is a healing balm. In Jewish tradition we are guided to train ourselves to wake up with “I am grateful” on our mind, on our lips and in our prayer of Modeh/Modah Ani each morning.
Practicing gratitude in the morning and often during the day, giving of oneself, and acting in the world to benefit others help remedy suffering and nourish the soul. The nice thing about gratitude is that it is a choice. We can choose the attitude of gratitude, we can choose to infuse our lives with awe and humility by thanking and appreciating often. Studies show that thanking and helping others support our happiness and well-being.
The opposite of the attitude of gratitude is entitled attitude. An entitled attitude is a feeling the world owes us something, that we deserve and should have all our expectations and desired fulfilled. If they are not, we feel miserable, angry and disappointed. Our society has conditioned many of us to be entitled consumers. With sayings like ‘the customer is always right’ we overlook care for others, and qualities like humility, patience and gratitude are ignored.
In a society where personal entitlement is the norm, giving thanks is a necessary remedy.
With giving thanks we gain perspective and we focus more on what we have, while we focus less on what we don’t have, and even less on what we should have.
On Thanksgiving day when you gather around the table, you may want to invite people to share the good things in their lives. You may also want to include meaningful words of prayers, readings and blessings to fill this day with thanks.
Here is how to sprinkle Jewish blessings on your Thanksgiving feastInvite your family and friends to focus on the theme of the day: Thanking! Begin with a moment of centering and quiet as you sit around the table and offer a kiddush (wine blessing.) Then, lift the bread together and bless the meal with Hamotzi (bread blessing.) Savor the food and enjoy the meal while listening to each others’ sharing their gratitude. You may want to conclude with a blessing after the meal to express thanks for the abundance. You can chant the grace after meal (birkat hamazon) and sing other songs of thanksgiving. Listen to Tov L’hodot in link below.
simple practice: Give yourself a moment now to name a few things you are thankful for. Include giving thanks in your daily routine. It’s best if it’s done at the same time daily. Notice how you feel when you remember the things that you are grateful for and the people that you appreciate.
Give yourself & others “me” time and “us” time to mend.
Mendful time is what many of us need most, especially in this hectic holidays season.
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