DEAR READERS: Happy Thanksgiving! It always brings me joy when we reach this celebratory marker in the year. My earliest memories of Thanksgiving are rich with family, the smells of savory foods cooking on the stove, children and adults flitting about in dress-up clothes and the fancy china and linens adorning the table. Thanksgiving is a special time when people pause and choose to spend time with the people they love.
An added bonus for my family is that my daughter was born during Thanksgiving time. Twelve years ago, I was in the hospital on Thanksgiving Day, enjoying the hospital's version of holiday fare; my daughter had come into the world just two days earlier.
The bounty of blessings that I recall during this time fills my heart. I hope the same is true for you. I believe we need to welcome our awareness of these blessings in order to manage the many other things that come our way.
There is so much going on in our world, and not all of it is filled with light and love. Most of us suffer in some way or another. Whether it is trying to pay the bills or managing a health situation, resolving family conflicts or rising in the working world, we are dealing with our stuff. Most of us have long lists of "stuff" that could be our focus and bring us down. When I read and watch the news and learn of person after person who has harmed another senselessly or taken his or her own life out of despair, I scratch my head and wonder what happened in their lives to drive them to such a dark place. But I know that if we don't actively work to see the world through a hopeful lens, the darkness can take over.
Choosing to claim the good in our lives and to navigate whatever comes our way with grace, clarity of vision and faith is not always easy to do, but amazingly, it makes challenges easier to handle. Choosing to believe that goodness lives within each one of us can help to make even the prickliest situations more manageable.
Better still, choosing to count our blessings at the very moment when we feel bitter or diminished or doubtful is an antidote to falling off the cliff of despair. And this is why I bring this up at Thanksgiving. Literally counting our blessings and recognizing the good -- small and large alike -- that has occurred in our lives can make each day sweeter. When you feel sad, ask: What am I grateful for? Answer yourself: My family. That I woke up to see another day. My home. My job. The clothes on my back. The kindness of a neighbor. The thoughtfulness of a stranger. Keep the list going, and make it as granular as you like. "I am grateful for my neighbor not playing loud music last night," or "I am grateful that I had enough money to pay my rent." Whatever is your truth, claim those things for which you are grateful. And by all means, actively choose to keep the company of people who practice gratitude on a daily basis. Living in gratitude in the spirit of Thanksgiving creates space in your life for you to welcome blessings.
(Lifestylist and author Harriette Cole is president and creative director of Harriette Cole Media. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)