Today is Thanksgiving in the US, a prominent holiday typically marked by insane travel nightmares for many, and a chance to spend time with non-core relatives.
To balance all that out we usually overeat, over drink, and slip into a tryptophan coma in front of the TV.
At least, that’s what the holiday has become for many.
Here at Peak Prosperity we like to remember that the holiday consists of two words, thanks and giving.
To truly give thanks to the people around you, but also to life itself and the immensely wonderful playground that is all around us in every moment, is to step towards and then into happiness.
Gratitude and happiness are linked. This has been proven in study after study (if you prefer your lessons from western science) and has been known by various spiritual lineages for ages (if you prefer your lessons from that arena).
This TED talk on the topic is worth a listen and comes to us from a monk who tells us to slow down, look where we are going, and be grateful:
Or you might try this cute short video which takes the experimental and data driven approach:
What is it about being truly grateful that brings happiness?
In my life what I’ve learned so far is that I’ve been fed a load of bunk about the human condition.
One example is that I’ve been led to believe that good heath is something that you have to work for instead of being our natural baseline. Want to be healthy? You’ve got to go to the gym and work hard. Instead, what I’ve learned in that health is the human baseline, as it is for all creatures.
If you are not healthy it means that something is out of balance in your life or you are being exposed to too many unhealthy things (like sugar, excessive carbohydrates, and inflammatory foods).
The other example pertains to this topic of happiness. I’ve somehow been led to believe that happiness is something that you have to attain, like health. It’s something that you have to work for, maybe go somewhere and study with someone, or take workshops and then meditate long and hard.
While each of those things may be worth doing, they also support the fiction that happiness is a rare and fleeting thing that must be earned.
Instead, I now hold the view that happiness is our human baseline. It’s what sits right at our core and is wired into our DNA blueprint.
No matter where you go on earth, and no matter what the level of technological sophistication of a culture, every culture has rituals because those are what connect us with the moment.
It is no accident that so many cultures independently developed rituals around offering gratitude. The practice of gratitude is what helps us to get back to our human baseline of happiness.
As I experience it, gratitude provides me with the opportunity to re-connect with the present moment, to provide my own frame of perspective on what I have and the abundance in my life.
Without gratitude we have to wait for life to take something away before we realize what we had.
With gratitude we can see the things we have while they are right there, in our lives, nourishing us and providing abundance.
However, it is the re-connection to the present moment that is, for me, the strongest gift of gratitude. All we really ever have is this present moment. To be in the present is to be content, and happy.
So as we think of all the things we can be grateful for, health, family, food, a roof over our heads, my invitation is to simply be grateful for the moment as it is.
I am grateful too for this community here at Peak Prosperity, for the work I get to do in the world, and for everything in my life that got me to this point.
And I don’t just mean the accomplishments and good times – but everything! – suffering included. It all was necessary and contributed to who and where I am in life and where I am is perfect because it is exactly where I need to be.
What are you grateful for?