A Limit on Gratitude?

Try as I may, I cannot get alliteration into my title this week. Know that hurts me.

Background information:

  • Thanksgiving is 17 days away.
  • I have a blessed life. No “real” problems- I don’t have Ebola or sick kids, or suffer from injustice. And yet…
  • I am an external processor and in certain circumstances, I’m prone to complaining
  • Today I’m trying to make some changes.

I’d like to blame the World Series, or being sick, or Halloween , or being a new aunt, for the recent uptake in my sugar consumption. White flour, alcohol, candy and plain ole desserts, have found their way into my mouth far too often over the past month and its my own fault. There are 7 pounds, a nagging case of congestion, and poor workout results that testify to an October of fun and sugar that’s taken a toll!

Alas, as I set out to eat differently, there are strict-ish limits.

Over the past 3 years, I’ve come to appreciate limits as a gift- a boundary line that provides focus in a calendar, work schedule, relationship etc…  that often feels nebulously unbounded. Saying no to some foods for the next few weeks is limiting yes, but freeing as well. I can make easier decisions in the moment knowing I have a goal for the long haul.

Eating restrictions often challenge me or others because of the “CANNOT EAT” list. A change in perspective to, “All that I CAN eat” helps curb discouragement and keeps me from failing.

Such a perspective practice is helpful in all of human [at least American] experience; not just food. To be thankful for what we do have, instead of anxious, disappointed, or angry about what we don’t have, changes us.

In adversity, can I still be grateful?  We are heading into a possible 21 days of freezing temperatures! 

To have a holiday around gratitude is a great idea. Yes, it is commercialized, out of historical context, filled with football, and overshadowed by Christmas. Still, I’m thankful we have it. No, we should not limit the practice of giving thanks to a season or a day, but I’m not going to bemoan having the holiday.

Instead, I’d like to take the limited number of days we have between now and Thanksgiving to practice gratitude more pointedly. Some ideas of how I might practice an attitude of gratitude:

-I will pull myself out of complaining with a list of three things I’m thankful. For example, I might be tempted to complain about changing a diaper at the park..instead, I can be thankful I don’t have to use the nasty park bathroom with my two year old, that I have a kiddo with a healthy digestive system, and that my child isn’t all grown up quite yet and that he wears a diaper means he also cuddles, smiles, plays, and talks like a really fun 2 year old.

-I will write thank you notes for people who have worked with me in Young Life stuff in the last few weeks with specific examples of why what they did served us so well.

-We will keep a list on our chalkboard of why we are thankful as a family.

-I will say thank you out loud and in my head as I move through my day.

-And my family knows, I will craft a Thanksgiving ritual for our thanksgiving table time in Colorado!

I don’t want to limit my gratitude, but I want to take advantage of the limit of a Thanksgiving season to be specific and actionable in giving thanks. Want to come?!

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