DEAR READERS: Happy Thanksgiving! This is one of the happiest times of year for me -- and also one of the busiest. Like so many other people, my family is on the move at Thanksgiving time. We travel to be with family, which often means being in stop-and-go traffic followed by moving slowly through congested airports. Somehow, the irritation of the hustle and bustle dims in comparison to the joy of sharing hugs with family we haven't seen for a year.
We also celebrate my daughter's birthday during this festive week. The miracle of her life in ours is truly enough to inspire us to do what this season calls us all to do: Count our blessings.
Thanksgiving is the season of gratitude. As the year draws to a close and we set our sights on what's next, this moment in time often brings family and loved ones together. We get to see how each other is progressing, what hurdles we may have faced and what opportunities lie before us.
To be fair, because this is often a time of gathering, plenty of people complain of friction that returns from old family memories. Others lament coming home because they fear being criticized, judged or otherwise made to feel uncomfortable. Yes, the opposites -- joy and sadness, elation and frustration -- do coexist at this holiday time.
Because this is true, I want to remind all of us to seek out the great in our experiences this Thanksgiving. By counting our blessings, we can soften our hearts. How do you do this? You can literally make a list where you write down those experiences, people and situations for which you are grateful. You can start small: "I am grateful that I woke up today and will be going to visit my family. I am grateful that I have the means to get to my destination -- whether I am paying for it or out of someone else's generosity. I am grateful for my health that is allowing me to be strong today. I am grateful for the food that I am going to soon eat. I am grateful for my wife/husband/mother/father/sister/brother/child/friends." Continue with your list of gratitude expressions until you feel more at ease. Your list can include very personal topics as well as global issues.
Make a conscious choice to be positive wherever you go for the holidays. Choose to see the good in other people, especially those with whom you have had conflict in the past. Decide that you will not get caught up in old drama. Encourage those around you to be happy in the moment. You will be amazed at how much your positive attitude can influence others.
Assuming an attitude of gratitude and a posture of service will help you tremendously. Instead of considering who may be there to wait on you or make you feel comfortable, look around to see how you can be of service to those in your midst. Open your eyes and notice what is going on. Actively choose to support each moment with conscious intention. This will make it so much easier to stay grounded, upbeat and clear through all of the activity. Enjoy!
(Lifestylist and author Harriette Cole is president and creative director of Harriette Cole Media. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)