I can’t think of a holiday I enjoy more than Thanksgiving. Sure, it’s an eating orgy, and everything we eat can be considered comfort food, from stuffing, to mashed potatoes, to turkey, roasts, corn casseroles, etc. There is no salad and no soup on Thanksgiving. It’s a waste of stomach space. I don’t even drink beer, which I love, because I don’t want to use any stomach real estate for that. People come home for Thanksgiving. No one wants to be away from their family on this holiday. That’s why it’s the most travelled holiday. All these reasons on their own would make this anyone’s favorite holiday. But for me it’s not the main reason.
I was shopping in Costco two days before the holiday and met a fellow Dunkin Donut franchisee shopping there for Thanksgiving. Being that he is a Muslim I was surprised at first that he celebrates the holiday. He told me he has 45 people coming to his house and his shopping cart proved it. The fact that we both celebrated Thanksgiving made me feel good inside. During these times of terrorism fears, and the terrorism being so based on Western vs. Middle Eastern differences it gave me a good feeling to know that we had this in common. I love universal concepts. Things that show our similarities.
There is a universally good feeling on this day. No one is excluded from giving thanks. It’s not religious based at all. Of course if you look on Facebook you will see pictures of Jesus giving thanks, but this holiday is not exclusive to Christians. It’s more spiritual than Christmas because even in our consumerist society we don’t really have anything commercial tied to Thanksgiving except for food. (Of course, the lack of consumerism for even a few days explodes into Black Friday the very next day) Everyone is included for Thanksgiving. Deepak Chopra says that gratitude is the gateway to your true self which is where your perfection lies. That’s why I try to celebrate Thanksgiving every day.
I find that many people look at life backwards. With the choices that people are always in a position to make, they seem to choose the opposite of what will make them happy. It’s a habit which they can’t help. They have been trained to be unhappy.
I think the main reason why people act this way is that they don’t think of what they have but of what they want or what they think is missing in their lives. Also people don’t tend to think of the moment they are in, but the future they desire. These two things are tied together. If you mostly think of the future then you cannot enjoy the present and what you have in the present. The future is full of our desires. So when we don’t live in the moment we cannot appreciate what we have. Why do we do this? Why do we only think of what we want, and rarely appreciate what we have? I believe the reason is because we gravitate towards unhappiness. Crazy as it seems deep down inside, our egos rather be unhappy. We think we strive for happiness but when we look at it closely it doesn’t really look that way. If happiness=appreciation, and unhappiness=wanting what we don’t have, then you would imagine we would be more appreciative and less desirous. Well one reason why we’d rather be unhappy, I believe, is because our ego likes unhappiness. When we are unhappy we get more attention from others. “Why are you so sad?” “What’s wrong?” “Can I do something for you?” On the other hand how many people are jealous of those who are happy? If most people are unhappy, then it stands to reason that they will envy those that are happy. Who gives attention to a happy person? It’s a rare friend who truly feels and shows joy for us being happy. It doesn’t sound very nice, but I believe there is much truth in this.
When I say happy, I mean happy in the moment. Our culture (which created our egos) thinks that we need to plan everything we do. To make sure everything we do works out right, is done correctly, and is maximized. To do that we need to think in terms of the future and we do that all the time. I’ll be happy if I get my bonus. I’ll be happy if my daughter gets accepted to the college of her choice. I’ll be happy when I meet the man of my dreams. Don Miguel Ruiz says that one of the Four Agreements you should make with yourself is to “Do your best.” If you always do your best then you don’t need to think anything more about the future. Just set your intention towards what you want, and get on the path to that goal, and do your best. You don’t need to obsess over your goal. Obsession doesn’t accomplish anything but waste energy and give us bad emotional feelings. You cannot do anything more than setting the goal and doing your best. The rest of the time your thoughts can be “in the moment”, enjoying and appreciating what you have, reflecting love towards everything in your life, and just being at peace. That is happiness. And that leads me to the next part of happiness. Our culture believes that happiness comes from outside of us. Possessions will make me happy. Meeting the right person will make me happy. If my children or my partner is happy I will be happy. I think that is an insane belief. If only that which is outside ourselves will make us happy, then losing any of those things can make us unhappy. We would be in a position where anything outside ourselves can be lost or taken away. However, if we can find happiness within ourselves, dependent on no one or no thing, then we can always be happy. And that is the way it was meant to be. Why would the universe want it any other way? Healthy newborns are born happy. Before socialization, unless they are hungry or in pain children are almost always happy.
So I feel that if we live in the moment, appreciate all that we have, and set an intention for all we want then we will be happy and at peace. It has been good direction for me to follow. My happiness in life started at the point I stopped looking at life backwards. And a funny thing happened. I started to receive more of those outside things like financial success, familial success, and personal, and consistent peace.