Take the gratitude that comes at Thanksgiving and apply it year-round

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By Fred Cavaiani

During this past week precedeing Thanksgiving, an attitude of gratitude hovers around us.

We can dismiss it. We can pay attention. It is our choice.

Late November with Thanksgiving celebrations and thanksgiving wishes, the beginning of positive Christmas energy enters our lives. It doesn't matter if we are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Atheist or Agnostic. This positive energy of good will to all enters our atmosphere.

And it begins with Thanksgiving. Family gathers around hoping for a Lions win while the big meal is being prepared. There is no tension about gifts. We just sit and attempt to enjoy one another and the football games. It is like a springboard into realizing that we live, move and breathe and love.

We are really alive. There are people who love us. People can be kind to one another.

In the Cavaiani family we now gather together at our daughter and her husband's home. The whole family will be together along with cousins from Chicago, and close friends. It will be a Cavaiani celebration. We enjoy the time together. These Thanksgivings are peaceful and relaxing and help us to bond closer with each other.

As I look forward to the gathering on Thursday I am filled with gratefulness for our family. I am also filled with the realization that there is always something to be grateful for.

Each moment of life, I can experience a sense of gratitude if I just focus on the moment long enough. On Thanksgiving Day and the days leading up to it we are almost overwhelmed that a Day of Thanksgiving is upon us.

Yet how often do we really focus on what we cherish the most and for which we have a sense of gratitude?

I need to look only at what I am doing at this moment to find a sense of gratitude. I am typing in our family room with the warmth of the fireplace before me. I can type. I can feel warmth. I have clothes to wear. I had food to eat for supper.

Wherever I am and whatever I see and experience, there is something for which I can be grateful.

Gratitude opens our hearts and minds to experience the deepest values of life. One of the deepest values of life is an experience of God. Nothing exists from nothing. There is energy within everything and everyone. I am grateful for realizing that this energy originates from a Divine Source. It is not so much what I have been taught but what I have experienced.

For the rest of this day, pay attention to the moment with a sense of gratitude and a sense of attentive observation and you will have an experience of God.

Thanksgiving challenges all of us to pay attention to what is good. There is always something good when we focus attentively on what is before us in the moment.

Each Thanksgiving it seems like life slows down for the day and we actually listen to each other. The Thanksgiving meal becomes a meal to enjoy for itself. Conversation and good food bring a sense of gratitude. It seems like the world stops for awhile on Thanksgiving and we just appreciate being with each other.

This day of gratitude for what we have was best expressed by our six-year-old grandson, Jack. Our daughter asked him "Jack, what are you thankful for?" Jack took a deep breath, spent a minute in reflection and then said "I am thankful for my life." Wow. Out of the little ones wisdom pours forth.

Thanksgiving is a time to have gratefulness for our life and every minute of it, be it in pain or joy. There is always meaning in each moment. When I gently focus on what is before me and who is before me I can find something to be grateful for.

When I express this gratitude, my heart and mind begin to open up to Something and Someone who creates in me a wonder and awe and mystery about life.

When my wife was diagnosed with cancer over four years ago, she purchased a plaque which now hangs where she can see it every day: "Thank you God for another day on this beautiful earth with the people I love."

The struggle is simply slowing down and paying attention to this moment. Yet every Thanksgiving as I watch the football game with family and friends and then have the "great" meal, I slow down, enjoy the meal and gratefully observe my family and friends.

It is wonderful and I become so filled with gratitude. Now if I could only appreciate the daily moments of the rest of the year. This is the true goal of Life and maybe the true purpose of Thanksgiving.

As our grandson Jack says: "I am thankful for my life."

Fred Cavaiani is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Psychologist with a private practice in Troy.

He is the founder of Marriage Growth Center, a consultant for the Detroit Medical Center, and Henry Ford Medical Center.

He conducts numerous programs for groups throughout Southeastern Michigan.

He can be reached at (248)362-3340. His e-mail address is: Fredcavi@yahoo.com and his website is fredthecounselor.com.

Published: Mon, Nov 28, 2011

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