The season of indulgence has begun. If you received trick-or-treaters at your home, then you may still have leftover candy tempting you. Thanksgiving offers a delicious feast, served up with a side order of gratitude, followed by the biggest shopping day of the year.
The holiday season is presented as “the most wonderful time of the year,” but for many, it is overwhelming, lonely, and draining.
The experience of craving causes the holiday blues. You are surrounded by images of happy families, perfectly prepared meals, and extravagant gift-giving, and may judge yourself as lacking in comparison. The contrast between your dreams and your reality, between your life and your friends’ smiling Facebook posts, between what you want and what you have can leave you feeling inadequate and dissatisfied.
Gratitude is an antidote to craving. But it can be hard to steer the mind in this direction. In his book, The New Earth, Elkhart Tolle observed that the mind “wants to want more than it wants to have.” The fleeting satisfaction of fulfilling a want is quickly replaced by wanting the next item, experience, or person. This insatiability is not a character flaw – it’s just the way the mind works.
To counter this mental habit, actively focus on gratitude. Decisively bring your attention to what you appreciate in your life. Catch your mind in the act of discarding life’s gifts and grabbing for the next one. Slow down. Exhale. Consider the people in your life. Bask in the love you share with your chosen family. Enjoy your meals more thoughtfully. Consider who farmed, raised, created, and cooked the food you are consuming. Slow down and concentrate on the taste and texture of your meals. When you make your wish list or shop to fulfill the desires of your loved ones, slow down and think about how you can give and receive love. When life events aren’t going according to your plan, observe your mind craving, insisting that the situation shouldn’t be as it is. Slow down and exhale. Notice what is going well in addition to the painful or frustrating experience. By bringing your attention to thanksgiving as an ongoing practice, your holidays will surely be brighter.