Among agrarian societies the completion of the harvest is usually marked by some form of celebration of thanks. With less than five percent of the population actively involved in agriculture the United States can hardly be considered an agrarian society. But the economy was based on agriculture historically, and the tradition of Thanksgiving continues.
The tradition for most includes families getting together, a big feast with turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes with turkey gravy, sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts. And this is all topped off with pumpkin pie.
Examine any widely-practiced tradition like Thanksgiving Day, and you will find a nugget of wisdom. It is usually much more profound than the current practitioners of the tradition realize. Thanksgiving Day is no exception.
Obviously, Thanksgiving Day is about giving thanks, or giving a prayer of thanks. Alternatively, it is about being consciously grateful or appreciative of something.
Being in a state of conscious gratefulness or appreciation yields profound emotional, physical and spiritual benefits. And that is the wisdom underlying this old tradition.
Emotional Benefits of Conscious Appreciation
In the last few years we have come to better understand that every emotional state has its own vibrational level. Anger has a low vibrational level, and guilt is even lower. Positive emotions have higher vibrational levels than negative emotions. Among the positive emotions gratitude and appreciation have very high vibrational levels.
The obvious benefit is that if you spend some time everyday in conscious gratitude, you will feel better. It can lift you out of unhappiness and distress. Since you tend to get what you focus on, obviously you will attract more good into your life if you focus on the good that you appreciate. You will also tend to attract more high-vibration people into your life.
Physical Benefits of Conscious Appreciation
It is no accident that we use the phrase, "heart-felt appreciation" to describe a state of deep gratitude: that state of deep gratitude has profound positive effects on the heart.
Research by the Heart Math Institute has demonstrated that a regular practice of pausing for a couple of minutes to experience some positive emotion can lower your blood pressure. It fosters cardiac coherence. The Heart Math people identify appreciation as one of the best positive emotions to use to enhance heart functioning.
I could go on and on about the physical benefits of conscious gratefulness -- heartfelt gratefulness -- but the physical benefits begin with the improved function of the physical heart and every system it affects.
Spiritual Benefits of Conscious Appreciation
Moving yourself into a state of heartfelt gratitude is spiritually equivalent to giving a prayer of thanks and appreciation. The cosmology may be different, but it is still a spiritual act.
As mentioned above, when you get into a high vibrational state through conscious appreciation, you tend to attract high vibrational people to you. This principle of attraction is every bit as much a spiritual principle as an emotional or psychological principle.
As you practice getting into that state of conscious gratitude, you become increasingly aware of your interconnection with all people, and indeed with all life. Some of you will be more aware of your connection to earth.
And that brings us back to Thanksgiving Day, because it is about giving thanks for what the earth has provided us.
So if you want to be happier, feel more connected, have positive people around you, be more aware of your spiritual self, and have better physical wellness, make every day a Thanksgiving Day. Take what I call "appreciation breaks" and do it frequently. It's the secret to wellbeing.
If you are stuck in a negative place where you canít seem to feel appreciation, just do whatever you need to do to get unstuck. Staying in a negative place just attracts more negative into your life.
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