DEAR READERS: Happy Thanksgiving! I wish each and every one of you a blessed time with your family and friends at this special time of year. For many, it may be the first time that people have gathered from far and wide for nearly two years, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. For some, there is still a divide because, for whatever reasons, you are unable to be physically in each other’s company. To all, I offer my love and blessings for a joyful moment of connection -- whether in person or remotely.
A practice that my mother has consistently encouraged my sisters and me to do is to “count your blessings.” At 92 years old, she continues to inspire us by showing the importance of claiming the positive no matter what is going on in our lives. The practice of counting your blessings, from Doris Cole’s perspective, is literal. Especially when times are tough and emotions are tender, Mama tells us to pause and look at the whole picture. When we are upset, agitated, disappointed or sad, she says, “Stop. Count your blessings.” Then we start with being grateful for waking up in the morning. Grateful for having a place to lay our heads at night. Grateful for the food that we eat. For the family we love so dearly. For the friends who support us. For the work that keeps us employed. For having the resources we need when purse strings are tight. For the good will we received from a teacher when a project was overdue. For the opportunity to make amends when we made a mistake. And so on.
Mama urges us to make this gratitude list as exhaustively as we can, and to write it down if that might help us to get grounded in the goodness that fills our lives. When we are feeling sorry for ourselves, she goes directly to the gratitude list. Sure, we may be experiencing difficulties, but that doesn’t mean that blessings aren’t present. In Doris Cole’s way of looking at the world, blessings are always present.
From her vantage point, it’s all a matter of perspective. Life has many ups and downs. People experience strife, disappointment, sorrow, tragedy and sadness. But they also experience joy, delight, wonder, happiness, excitement and love. Mama’s perspective demands that you see both and that you choose joy whenever you can. That doesn’t mean that you ignore the hardships or that you turn a blind eye to the negative aspects of life. It does mean that you do not dwell in them and allow negativity to fester. It’s all a matter of choice. We can harness power by making conscious choices about how we think, what we say and what we do, and recognition of that is helpful at this time.
So, what will your choice be during this season of thanksgiving? How can you count your blessings now and always? Consider having a discussion with your loved ones, either in person or virtually, where you do a “count your blessings” exercise together. Invite everyone to take a moment and consider what they are grateful for right now. Then share your findings with each other. This activity is guaranteed to invoke good feelings and a spirit of unity among you. Happy Thanksgiving!
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)