Living Contentment: Thanksgiving
| Walking into the living room, I caught a few brief few minutes of Dr. Wayne W. Dyer on the public television channel. He was lecturing from his book, Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life, in which he expounds the views of Lao-tzu expressed in the Great Way.
I would have watched more but my husband had the television remote control and he switched the channel to his football game.
All I caught in those few seconds was Dr. Dyer’s explanation of the idea of “living contentment.” The notion stuck in my head. What if I lived every moment in a state of contentedness, no matter what my circumstances?
I would have to detach my feelings from the outcome in any particular scenario. Going beyond that, I would need to actively express thanks, or a sense of gratitude, for the experiences available in each moment and with each breath I took.
When I tried to practice this philosophy, I discovered I am not that enlightened. I am, however, able to find moments when I experience living contentment. And what better time to practice this skill than Thanksgiving Day?
Here are my resolutions for increasing the amount of contentment I experience each day:
1. Write a personal “thank-you” list. For me, writing something always makes it more real, more concrete. In the past, I’ve mentally noted items I am grateful for. Going forward, I need to begin listing them on paper once or twice a week.
First on my list will be a thank-you to my body for being responsive to good nutrition and regular exercise. Having abused it for many years, I am deeply appreciative of the good health I enjoy today.
2. Look for the silver lining. When rain interrupts my plans for tennis, I struggle to get through my cloud of disappointment. Finding a benefit isn’t easy. But if I am willing to engage the question, something positive emerges. Usually I can find an equally good use of my time.
This is a skill that I’ve worked hard to acquire. When, for example, I’ve let a few extra pounds slip on, I am grateful for the gentle whisper telling me to get back on track. Without that internal mechanism, I might keep gaining.
3. Give thanks regularly and repeatedly to the people around me. My husband faithfully takes out the garbage once a week. Watching him carry out the garbage this morning, I realized that I’ve never thanked him for his conscientiousness in performing this unglamorous but necessary task. I need to be more expressive for all of the big and little things that are done for me throughout each day, and take nothing for granted.
It is easy to fall into the trap of being self-critical when you are a self-improvement junkie as I am. (I’m a sucker for anything involving steps and tips, such as three steps to fixing your marriage or seven tips on managing your clutter). In this reality, I can never measure up.
Dr. Dyer encourages us to take the opposite point of view, and become generous and appreciative of the wonderful goodness in our own lives and the gifts that others give us daily. When I nourish myself in this way, I have less need to nourish my body by stuffing it with food. And I can’t imagine a better, more satisfying strategy for getting through the holidays!
I hope you’ll join me in making this holiday one filled with many thanksgivings.
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