Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Extending the Attitude of Gratitude

We celebrated our Thanksgiving with a road trip to see both our families in Illinois.  Moving away from everyone and seeing family less often has been a difficult change for us, and there's no better way to spend a holiday than surrounded by the people we love and for whom we are so thankful.  Tye is growing so quickly and noticeably right now that she amazed relatives with her expressive vocabulary and thick blonde hair.
Waiting for dinner...
Throughout November, I kept running into people's daily posts of things for which they were thankful.  I appreciate the conscious effort made to focus on being thankful, especially during the month we celebrate Thanksgiving.  Any way to extend the meaning and celebration of Thanksgiving (other than just extra turkey and potatoes) is, in my opinion, a great reminder of all we have.  
Now that Thanksgiving has passed and we're already deep in the throes of Christmas (though last I checked, it's still November), I hope all those people are continuing to practice their mindful thankfulness.  I've been told it takes 30 days for an activity to become habit.  Thanksgiving was on the 24th, almost a week shy of the 30 days it would require for someone to make a habit of noting something for which she is thankful each day.  Another theory by Dr. Maxwell Maltz suggests that 21 consecutive days is a span long enough to create a habit, but they must be consecutive.  I'm hoping there is truth to that theory and that everyone who noted daily what made them thankful will continue that practice, especially through the holidays.

As I grow older, each year I'm more aware of the stark contrast between Thanksgiving's prayers of gratitude and Black Friday's push for wanting, needing more.  Don't get me wrong- I'm very happy that the economy is rebounding, and I even participated in this year's Black Friday shopping mania.  I think I just notice the attitude shift between the two days much more clearly as I gain perspective.  

Or, maybe Black Friday is becoming a bigger deal each year- apparently to some it is, like the lady who pepper sprayed other shoppers over an XBox.  This year, as Black Friday edged it's way into the day of Thanksgiving and stores opened at 10pm Thanksgiving evening, the world of shopping seemed to overtake our one day devoted to thankfulness.  
Yesterday, I was reminded it was Cyber Monday when I opened my laptop to 49 new emails announcing huge discounts.  I deleted most without opening, but one caught my attention: from Patagonia*, an email with the subject line "Do Not Buy This Jacket."  Clever marketing, I thought, and opened it, curious to see what spin on the day the company was throwing.  As I read, I was greeted with the breath of fresh air I needed.  From the email:
Today is Cyber Monday. It will likely be the biggest online shopping day ever. Cyber Monday was created by the National Retail Federation in 2005 to focus media and public attention on online shopping. But Cyber Monday, and the culture of consumption it reflects, puts the economy of natural systems that support all life firmly in the red. We're now using the resources of one-and-a-half planets on our one and only planet.Because Patagonia wants to be in business for a good long time – and leave a world inhabitable for our kids – we want to do the opposite of every other business today. We ask you to buy less and to reflect before you spend a dime on this jacket or anything else.
In a world so deeply immersed in consumerism that not even a full day is devoted to being thankful any longer, we're bombarded daily with messages that we need more.  Combating those sentiments requires a conscious effort, because emails like those above are few and far between.  The first step to wanting less is appreciating what we already have, one more reason to continue the practice of being thankful into December.  So while the holiday of Thanksgiving may have passed, I'd like to wish you a season of continued thanksgiving.  Keep giving thanks and maintain your attitude of gratitude.  Before you know it, it will become a habit that changes your life for the better.

*I love Patagonia products and as much as I wish I was receiving something from Patagonia for sharing this with you, I'm not.  Other than a few online orders, they've never heard of me.  But I did spend the weekend stretching out the stomach in my favorite Patagonia fleece....  

1 comment:

  1. I agree. Moving away from the US and looking back on so much consumerism and greed really makes it hard for me to want to move back sometimes. I am afraid that if I don't keep my guard up for my families sake that I will somehow turn into this raging shopping monster. Since where I live there are more limitations on when I can get out of the house, how I can get somewhere, and how much things cost I seem to tend to stay away from it. I don't know. I guess it is just knowing yourself and really pondering on what you have and what you need. Being grateful for the things that you have gives you so much more in return anyways. I like thinking posts like this...
    That 3rd pic of Tye is to die for. She really looks more grown up.
    Hope pregnancy days are going great!


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