I received several emails and text messages from friends this year for Thanksgiving, referring to the holiday as a "Day of Gratitude." While this might not sound like much of a stretch from the word "Thanksgiving," I think the shift is a powerful one, especially when we shift further to appreciation.
Like most holidays in the United States, Thanksgiving has become commercialized and bastardized. The focus of the day often strays towards the overconsumption of food, meat, and alcohol, commiserating about annoying relatives, and zoning out in front of the television. Making a shift to calling it a "Day of Gratitude" opens our focus to expansive appreciation.
Stating what we're grateful for is a way to focus our thoughts on the positive in our life. I think that "appreciation" is the next step of actually feeling the gratitude - experiencing the expansion in our hearts when we cultivate appreciation. It lifts our spirits and helps us recognize how much beauty and joy is around us.
Try this short exercise: 1) Think about something you are very grateful for; 2) Place your right hand over your heart, close your eyes, and focus on the thoughts and feelings of why you appreciate that particular thing, what it provides for you, how it makes you feel, etc.; and 3) Breathe deeply into that feeling of appreciation and feel an expansion in your chest.
If you want to bring this practice to making positive shifts in your life, make a commitment to yourself to choose at least one day of each week that will be your personal day of gratitude. And...I'd like to express my appreciation by thanking you for reading this :)