Many of us have been thinking about appreciation and gratitude as we came upon the Thanksgiving season. Of course, Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday in the U.S., today.
To at least a few of us, Thanksgiving is more than overindulgence in food, some sort of religious event, football games, and shopping sprees. In our hearts, we know that even if we choose not to participate in the outward events of the holiday people know as Thanksgiving Day, that there is much we can celebrate about thankfulness and appreciation.
There are so many clichés circulating in popular culture regarding gratitude that we actually become numb to deep, sincere appreciation for all that we are and all that we have. By my observations, sincere appreciation has all but disappeared from American culture. It seems, to me, that greed has won the day.
Maybe you have noticed, during the past several years, that the use of gratitude has become a technique to enable people to acquire more money, more stuff, and more luxury. This seems to be a gross profanity. Gratitude has come to incorporate a niggling feeling of lack, whenever gratitude is used as a technique to bring about more “abundance” in ones life. The self-help gurus are fond of telling us to have “an attitude of gratitude”. The phrase sounds more like an advertising slogan for a soft drink. Gratitude as a technique in order to acquire something more seems like manipulation.
We’ve all felt this at one time or another, right? I always thought that gratitude was a state of mind that stands on its own two feet. Once a person feels gratitude, that person should have no more desire for more. The person should understand that he/she has plenty. To feel gratitude used to mean, “We have enough, thank you.”
I’ve rediscovered the term “appreciation”. Appreciation still feels like a valid term to use to express gladness of our fulfilling, bountiful lives. Until the advertising industry comes up with a cliché about appreciation, I’ll continue to prefer that word over gratitude.
Some wisdom teachers have been advocating a triangle definition of love. The sides of the triangle are Acceptance, Understanding, and Appreciation. If you neglect or take away even one of the triangle’s sides, the geometric form collapses into a two or one dimensional heap. If we want to truly experience the depth of love, the entire triangle is necessary. Today, Thanksgiving, is a great day to practice true appreciation.
A deep thinker like Friedrich Nietzsche once wrote what I’m trying to communicate for today. “Admiration for a quality or an art can be so strong that it deters us from striving to possess it.” Stop for a few moments and ponder the wisdom of Nietzsche’s statement. Isn’t that state of mind what Thanksgiving is all about?
Sometimes, even self-help writers stumble upon the true meaning of thanksgiving. One writer, Anthon Saint Maarten wrote this: “If we never experience the chill of a dark winter, it is very unlikely that we will ever cherish the warmth of a bright summer’s day. Nothing stimulates our appetite for the simple joys of life more than the starvation caused by sadness or desperation. In order to complete our amazing life journey successfully, it is vital that we turn each and every dark tear into a pearl of wisdom, and find the blessing in every curse.”
Many of us have internalized societal definitions of worthiness and goodness along with those qualities that are shunned and disregarded. All of us contain qualities that are celebrated and qualities that are degraded. Today is a good day to honor the various racial heritages, nationalities, sexes, sexual orientations, stages and ages of life, and appearances. Honoring and appreciating these, helps complete our own love triangles. Look deeply into the variations of these various aspects of humanity, and I guarantee that you will rediscover the love for your fellow human beings.
Isn’t Thanksgiving Day really all about genuine appreciation?
Thank you for reading bluejayblog.
The Blue Jay of Happiness says true happiness comes from recognizing our true nature and appreciating what we already possess.