As I am getting ready to put the big bird in the oven, I have some reflections to share with you… It’s Thanksgiving but what if, deep inside, you don’t really feel grateful? What if you are going through some tough times in your life and you think: Why should I celebrate? 

Perhaps everywhere you look, you read about gratitude practices and the benefits of being grateful. You know that it’s a time to pause and reflect, and be mindful of what makes your life worth living, but what do you do if you are not feeling that way at all? 

Maybe you’ve had a relationship end, a death in your family, or a loved one diagnosed with an illness, and you’re reeling from all the emotions. Or perhaps there’s not a specific reason you can put your finger on, but you just aren’t feeling warm and fuzzy. 

Regardless of where you are this Thanksgiving season, give yourself a break and recognize that there’s no right or wrong way to do the holiday. 

There are however different ways that we can perceive reality. And if you are willing to navigate with me through an ocean of possibilities, this may change it all around, because it is the way we think that creates the feelings we experience in life. 

Here are seven ways to perceive the holidays: 

1) “I will Burn the Turkey” 
Possible scenarios: 

You’re afraid something may go wrong, perhaps you’re afraid that you’ll “burn the turkey”, or that you don’t feel like seeing anyone. Maybe you’re afraid of not having enough money to celebrate, or that you have sad memories of past Thanksgivings that make you feel like not celebrating. Or perhaps you don’t want to deal with people’s comments that might ruin your mood. Just the thought of the holiday terrifies you and you would rather disappear from the universe. 

The best way to deal with these feelings is to face and embrace them. Make an effort to put on a smile because it will make you feel better. When you socialize it will make others more eager to hang out again in the future. Mostly, for those who feel emotionally isolated, the holidays are a great opportunity to deepening the connections you already have. Choose one person with whom you might get closer and make an effort to spend time with them. Don’t wait to be invited to a party, instead reach out to people you know and suggest activities that you like. People are much more likely to respond to specific suggestions than to a generic “let’s get together”. 

2) “I Hate Turkey” 

Possible scenarios: 
Perhaps you hate social gatherings. Perhaps you don’t like cooking but you feel obligated to do so, or you think Thanksgiving is just another consumption-focused holiday. Maybe you’re upset with memories of the past; or that you don’t have the day off from work. Actually, you don’t have anything to be thankful for, and you’d rather just forget the holiday completely. Wherever your story is, you feel like blowing it off! You feel conflicted and defiant. 

Feeling angry is like drinking poison and wishing someone else dies. All anger is a reaction to some perceived threat, so it naturally serves as the body’s evolutionary cue to ready itself for combat. Anger affects your thinking quite as powerfully as it does your body. It affects your health in such a deep way. 

So, the best thing to do is to process your anger. I suggest that you take responsibility for how you perceive people and things and turn it around. 

Do this” 

RELAX: Take deep breaths, go for a walk or take a bath. 
RE-ASSESS: Look at the situation that provoked the anger in a different way. 

These questions may help you: 
– Am I assuming anything that needs to be verified? 
– Is this situation as serious as I think? 
– Am I exaggerating this or taking it too seriously? 
– Can I re-focus on things that I like, instead of on things that I don’t like about this person or thing? 
– Can I see this situation from the other person’s point of view? 
– What difference will this situation make in five years from now? 

I could probably list another bunch of questions to ask yourself when your vulnerability buttons are getting pushed, but hopefully, these examples will suffice. 

Bottom line, always look for alternate ways to perceive whatever provoked you, so that you can let it go. Most important is to know that no one rather then yourself has the power to make you angry. For, in the end, this “warlike” emotion is something that’s created in our own mind. 

3) “Why Turkey?” 

Possible scenarios: 
You could care less about the holiday, and have better things to do with your time – you think it’s just another day. If you decide to attend an event, it’s because you feel obligated and you make sure people know it. You want to have fun doing the things that you want to do and to not be bound to an event established by society. You rationalize, pondering the good and bad, and then you decide at your convenience. Your feelings are more important than anything else. Your attitude is like as if life was a game and you always have to win. The problem with this attitude is that your rationalizations and justifications take too much energy from you and you may perceive life as a battle. Everything is a problem and until you have all the details figured out you don’t relax. 

I suggest that you step back from the “game” and look at the bigger picture. Life is not a competition and it’s more important to enjoy the journey because it sure ends one day. So, how about dropping all pre-concepts about the holidays and just see it as if you have never experienced it before? 

4) I love Turkey! 

Possible scenarios: 
You absolutely love Thanksgiving! You believe it’s sacred, and you want to take the opportunity to share your love and thank everyone around you. Perhaps you’re a spiritual person who enjoys helping at charity events or performing community service. Or perhaps you love to cook and to see people enjoying themselves. You do all you can to please everyone. You’re very thankful for your life, and you feel sorry for the less fortunate. You feel responsible for saving the world, and you always have great concern for others, but not much for yourself. Oops, did I say that? Yes, you lack self-love. It’s all about everybody else, but not you. 

So, at this time, let’s make a change. What about making something special just for you? Self-love is the seed that brings real peace to the world. So do it! 

What is that special something that you need or want? Go get it, or go do it – just for you!!

5) Delicious Turkey! 

Possible scenarios: 
You go with the flow! You enjoy being around people, and you have no agenda. You look forward to a gathering, eating delicious food, and having a great time! You love, feel loved, and are grateful for all that you have! You are at peace with the world. What a great attitude for the holidays! Kudos to YOU!!

6) Hooray Turkey!! 

Possible scenarios: 
You love life, and you don’t need a reason to be happy. The holiday is another great opportunity to celebrate! You are the life of the party and Thanksgiving allows you to entertain, love and delight everyone! Perhaps you love to cook, sing, and dance!!! You are thankful, grateful and have a passion for life. You live in bliss! Wow!!

I admire YOU!! 

7) Turkey or No Turkey. That’s the Question… 
You feel “one” with all there is in life and you’re in unison with our magical world. You carry no judgments and you have a great passion for life. You are happy either with or without the Thanksgiving holiday. You live in the moment and accept what is. Salute to you, you are a Master of your perception and energy! YOU are AMAZING!

Remember, during the holidays or in life, your thoughts determine how you feel. You can change your reality when you change how you perceive it. It’s all your choice. 

Even in the darkest times, there are still things in your life to be grateful for, and those can be celebrated. Keep these perceptions in your mind and open up your heart to thankfulness, because this attitude will also bring you success in all areas of your life.

​Happy Thanksgiving!!
Much love!