Having arrived in the US 13 years ago from Mexico, the all-American holiday of Thanksgiving— is still a relatively new tradition for me.  And yet, it has become one of my absolute favorites.Although in recent years Americans have been divided over how best to honor and portray the holiday’s controversial origins, I believe we must all remember that it brings us something far more meaningful than history: that is, an opportunity to pause and reflect upon the things we are grateful for, and on gratitude itself.

This is a rare and beautiful tradition. There are so few other times in life set aside specifically for celebrating gratitude and inviting us to reflect upon and embrace it.  My wish for the world as we approach Thanksgiving this year is that we all lean on this occasion to tap into, and sit with, sentiments of gratitude.  I invite everyone to consider the following possibilities for helping gratitude deepen and spread:

Create a global holiday in the spirit of Thanksgiving.  Why not set aside a day or a week when communities around the world can pause and reflect on the things we are grateful for?  The US is just the beginning… “A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue but the parent of all the other virtues.” -Cicero

Reframe Thanksgiving as a message of peace and new beginnings. Yes, the holiday’s origins were far from peaceful.  But let’s amplify the positive that has come from the Thanksgiving tradition.  With families across the country convening in gratitude, it can become a time for saying, “Let’s put our differences behind us, put our inner struggles in healing mode and walk together in peace.”

Use the opportunity to reflect on paths to self-improvement.  In the spirit of new beginnings, Thanksgiving is a perfect time to take stock of our strengths and weaknesses over the year that has passed, to choose areas to improve upon and to ask ourselves how we want the next chapter of our lives to look in the year ahead.

Include an element of giving.  After all, the word Thanksgiving includes both “thanks,” and “giving.” Giving thanks is one thing.  Giving love, support, and help to those in need elevates the spirit of the day to a whole new level.  He who gives receives. An ungrateful heart lacks the capacity to truly give.

Embrace the light by seeing it, giving it and being it. Thanksgiving is the beginning of the season of light when people all over the world, of all religious persuasions, mark holidays with light-filled festivities.  But the light is about so much more than decoration: it is about seeing light, being light, and giving light.  It’s about living in the present moment, being mindful of both the joy and the suffering all around us.

Tune Into your body and spirit—and those of the ones you love. Lend an ear, a heart or a helping hand where one is needed.

What are your wishes for the world this Thanksgiving?

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