Thanksgiving is upon us, the annual time of year at the end of November when we gather with friends and family, eat Turkey, stuffing, mac and cheese, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes…you get the point. Turkey is actually my least favorite Thanksgiving food. Give me all the stuffing and in my best Ron Swanson impression, “Wait, wait, I worry that what you just heard was, ‘Give me a lot of [stuffing]’, what I said was, “Give me ALL the [stuffing].” Of course Ron was talking about bacon and eggs but yes, I like stuffing that much.
Aside from the food, family, and friends, Thanksgiving is a time for us to give thanks to the people and things we have in our lives. Originally, Thanksgiving was a time to give thanks for our harvest, and in a way, I suppose the things we give thanks for today could be considered our harvest. Relationships have to be tended to, they take time and effort, and yes with care, they grow.
Thanksgiving is an annual reminder for us to slow down, take stock of what we have, and give thanks. In other words, to be in the moment or what’s called “Contacting the Present Moment” in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy or ACT (say the word). Our brain, which is sort of like a thought producing machine, typically creates thoughts about the future and the past and we can get very caught up in these thoughts, especially the negative ones. About 47% of our day our minds are wandering about the future, the past, or things that will never happen at all and we are less happy when our minds wander than when we are focused on the present moment. This data comes from a study by Killingsworth and Gilbert (2010) which goes on to say, “a human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind. The ability to think about what is not happening is a cognitive achievement that comes at an emotional cost.”
So this is all to say, try to make what is important about Thanksgiving more than just an annual event. Try to be in the moment more. Soak up the moment with your 5 senses, think about what is happening in the moment, the current activity you are in, you’ll be happier for it!