I do not mean to make light of what, as a world, we have been going through these past months. It has been awful. I’m a pretty, take-it-on-the-chin, kind of gal for the most part, but even I feel myself crumbling under the isolation, the loss of all things familiar, and the lack of freedom and carefree air that we have had the privilege to enjoy. Even as I write this, the loss of life we’ve suffered in just this one day is staggering and heartbreaking. Yet here we are on the cusp of another holiday that will be almost unrecognizable to us, a holiday given the moniker of ‘Thanksgiving’. What are we supposed to do with it?
A long time ago I heard a motivational speaker say to his audience, “Act your way into a better way of feeling.” At first, I didn’t like it much. If we simply act in a certain way that isn’t how we truly feel, aren’t we being insincere? Aren’t we being phony? H
owever, after I lost my husband, I began to realize the truth and wisdom of that advice. If I allowed myself to keep wallowing in my unhappiness day, after day, after day, I would get nowhere except further into a pit of despair. If I instead, woke up each new day and decided to act like I was better than I was the day before, the one day down the road, I might wake up and actually BE better than I was before.
I think this “act-yourself-into-a-better-way-of-feeling” is good advice for where we find ourselves today. Yes, our world is frightening right now and it is very hard to muster up any enthusiasm for a holiday that is built on the foundation of being thankful. But, what if we go ahead and act thankful anyway? Could it change our perspective and attitude, this acting ourselves into a better way of feeling? It couldn’t hurt.
My mom was a great one for visiting those in nursing homes. Her gift was lifting chins off of chests to give one a better view of the good around them. I witnessed her one day go into a room, sit down, pull out a pen and some paper and say, “Okay, Mrs. Parks, let’s list our blessings, shall we?” Mrs. Parks response was ,”Get out of my room.” The old lady pointed toward the door without ever lifting her chin off of her chest. Of course, my mother was pretty unshakeable. She scooted her chair a little closer to Mrs. Parks’ wheelchair, rolled up her sleeves and began. “The hallway doesn’t smell as bad as it did last week when I was here. Now, that’s definitely a blessing, don’t you think?” By the fifth item on the list, Mrs. Parks chin was up off her chest as she began to add a few of her own items like her feet weren’t as swollen than they had been, and she had orange sherbet for lunch. Both were huge blessings in the nursing home world.
Pans-giving is what it is. But it doesn’t have to be what it could be. We just need to lift our chins up a bit. Want to be thankful and then eventually we may actually BE thankful. Here’s to less swollen feet and more orange sherbet.