For Americans it’s a big deal, the Thanksgiving Holiday. It’s their largest travel period and it’s often more likely for the family to get together on this holiday than Christmas. As a Jamaican we never celebrated Thanksgiving so even though I now live in the US - albeit temporarily - it doesn’t hold much interest for me as a holiday. However, the act of giving thanks is indeed a noble one and one that I think we too often forget and really should be doing on a daily basis.
I know what you’re thinking. Why on earth would you give thanks or feel any kind of gratitude for this chronic pain that has knocked you down, limited your movements, and now keeps you awake at nights? Well, you’re not giving thanks for the pain itself; you are taking time to think about the things for which you are grateful, acts of kindness that happen all around you and to you.
I can almost hear you, “It’s not fair and I see no reason to give thanks!” Not only that, the chronic pain stops you from participating in the holiday preparations and celebrations. That can lead to loneliness and depression, two of the sidekicks of chronic pain. Yup, I’ve been there too, had a lot of the same thoughts, but in that place of ingratitude is also a place of misery and you don’t need to risk sinking into it.
Consider the origin of the word gratitude as shown at Random House Dictionary.com. The first part of the word, grāt, is equivalent to pleasing. Consider also that within the meaning of the word is a quality or a feeling. Perhaps then you may come to understand why gratitude is of such value to you, even when you are in pain.
What happens when you express thanks is that you embrace the feeling of thankfulness and it is pleasing. It just feels good! That pleasant feeling can lift you out of the depression and help you find ways to manage the loneliness.
In my humble opinion though, one day of thanksgiving won’t cut it. That’s not harnessing the power of gratitude; one day is more like a fly through with a quick high and a long low. You need to keep that quality of gratitude going all the time, especially when managing pain.
It is a deliberate act of looking around you for even the smallest of things to give thanks for allowing the pleasing quality to grow within you and permeate all areas of your life. And when this feeling can ooze from your very being your life, as a whole, will become more pleasing.
Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends and to everyone else, have fun giving thanks!