Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Counting your blessings

By S. Derrickson Moore LAS CRUCES — The time of year when we celebrate giving thanks for what we have is, paradoxically, the season when many are obsessing about what they do not have (or can’t afford to give). In a decade when black Friday has edged forward to blacken Thursday, when many feel compelled to leave the Thanksgiving table to camp out (and cop out of family gatherings) in search of bargains, I think it’s time for a gratitude time-out. If spirituality is an important part of our lives, it seems like we are shortchanging the meaning of the season, the meaning of life, and indeed, our very souls. Growing up in mid-century America, the time famous for keeping up with the Joneses, the more thoughtful curmudgeons of my childhood were righteously indignant when people started putting up Christmas decorations the first week in December. Then it moved to Halloween. Now Christmas in July sales and celebrations are common and holiday acquisition campaigns seem to last almost as long as presidential campaigns. And this year, I find that my head and heart are filled not with visions of sugarplums, but with counter-programming concepts. I’ve been thinking about the “attitude of gratitude” concept that I’ve heard so much about from friends and relatives who have successfully navigated 12- step programs. (And a personal aside: I can’t think of any material thing that has ever generated as much gratitude and joy as the news that a loved one has made it through another year of clean and sober recovery). I think about the Biblical advice to consider the lilies of the field and I’m grateful that such wisdom is available to us all in a land and age when arrogance and greed seem to have a stranglehold on society. I think of Biblical nuances that have become clearer to me with age: that it’s the love of money (stress “the love of,” not the money) that is the root of all evil. I know the truth of wise sayings like: “Happiness is not getting what you want, but wanting what you have.” The admonitions come from many times and cultures: ancient Zen Buddhist maxims, artistic philosophies that focus on the beauty of minimalism. Less is more. Gratitude has also become a popular precept of new age and pop psychology, and some scholarly studies have shown that it can be an important part of happiness and basic metal health. People who keep a gratitude journal, recording each day things for which they are grateful, reportedly seem to be happier and more successful than those who don’t. (And, I’d venture to guess, several times more joyful that those who hoard grudges, slights, wrongs, dashed dreams, bitterness and unforgiven sins). I think I’ll try it myself, in a blank 2012 datebook I found with the Christmas stuff. Every day, from Thanksgiving through Dec. 31, I plan to list five things for which I am grateful. I’ll let you know how it works out, and if you try it, I’d love to hear from you, too. Some see gratitude as a route to enlightenment and even bliss, and crucial to a quest for communion with higher powers and our higher, best selves. In fact, some sage souls have said that if our prayers were limited to nothing more than “Thank you,” that would suffice. I’m doing my best to remember that, this holiday season, and to give gratitude the top priority this year, all year around. Happy holidays to you all. And thanks … y mil gracias. S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at; 575-541-5450. To share comments, go to and click on Blogzone and Las Cruces Style. Follow her on Twitter @DerricksonMoore.

No comments: