Seven Days of Thanksgiving: Relaxing Right Now Into Gratitude

Ours is a culture of striving. Our conditioning is to try to accomplish more and to be more efficient, controlled, smart, spiritual, or _______ [fill in the blank]. We should be better professionals, friends, partners, parents, or have better stuff, jobs, friends, partners, or bosses. We should even need to be more grateful! More is simply better. As a result we end up living in an imagined future where we hope ourselves and our circumstances will be much improved.

One casualty in all this is gratitude. If we are always struggling to fix ourselves or our lives, we forget to breathe, taste our food, drop our shoulders, soften our bellies, or behold those we love. Perhaps we are afraid to pause because we are trying to keep at bay sorrow or shame or anxiety. Whatever the reason, it is hard to feel gratitude if we are somewhere other than the present moment.

If you are feeling as if you are spinning right now, just pause for a moment and tune into your breath. What is your experience right now? What if you were to allow this moment to be just as it is? Imagine just for a moment that you don’t have to be more wise or loving or generous or efficient or even more grateful than you are right now. What if you–exactly as you are right now–and this moment were enough?

In the words of author and wisdom teacher Mary O’Malley, “in gratitude there is no past or future. The struggle of more ceases and we are left a sense of wonder and connection with life.” In other words, gratitude abides in here and now and naturally arises when we let go of “more” and “better” — even for just a moment. Gratitude, as with love, cannot be forced, but it can be cultivated by our being gentle, loosening our expectations of ourselves and others, and relaxing the grip of becoming.

So during this holiday season, with all its clamor and demands and stimulation, may you take moments to breathe and experience your inherent “enoughness.” You might find that is enough to be grateful for.

Every day for the seven days leading up to Thanksgiving, we will post a new blog for the series, Seven Days of Thanksgiving. You can also follow The Imago Center of DC on Facebook and Twitter to get our latest articles directly in your newsfeed.