Sometimes it’s hard to be thankful, even on Thanksgiving!

With the holidays upon us, the smell of turkey cooking, pies baking, families packing up to go to the relatives, there are many among us who are in pain.  For them life is hard.

Perhaps they’ve lost their job and now worry about how they will pay for the basics, while others are making their Christmas list.

Perhaps they have lost a loved one, whether through death or divorce, and now dread the empty chair at the dinner table.

Perhaps they’ve been diagnosed with an illness that requires all their strength to heal, leaving no energy for all the holiday cheer.

And perhaps it’s just that as they look around at their lives today, they say to themselves, “this is not where I wanted to be.”

These people are hurting and barely making it through each day.  Yet they are supposed to find gratitude for all they do have.

I know what it’s like when your heart is so sad, the heaviness pulling you down.  When you look around at your life knowing there are others out there praying for even half of what you have, and although you are grateful, all you can really see is what or who is missing.  Try as you might, to let go of the angst, the sadness, the regrets, the what if’s and if only’s, and tell yourself to lighten up, look to the good stuff, you just can’t shake the blues.

And it’s Thanksgiving to boot!  Holy Molly! How do you give thanks for a life that feels undone?

I ask this question of myself everyday.  It’s been a really hard year.  My heart still hurts and although I want it to stop, I can’t force it.  I listen to others who feel the same.  Who find that no matter how hard they try to find work, they can’t. Or no matter how many doctors they see, no one has the answer or cure.  Or no matter how many people tell them they are loved, the loss of the ‘One’ is too big to make up for the heartache.

And the only answer I can come up with is this:

Distract yourself. It’s okay to do so.  It’s a way of letting go.  Putting your attention on something else even for a while, allows you to take a break from that which hurts.  Let that distraction be easy.  Something like: watching a funny movie,  walking  in the rain, reading a good book, getting a massage or taking a hot bath, playing solitaire with a cup of your favorite coffee, taking a drive in the country, or petting your dog.  You can play a game, paint a picture or a room in your house, build something, rake the leaves, cook a yummy meal, visit with a friend, or go to a museum.

No, it won’t change the situation, but it will give you some perspective.

It will ease your mind and soften your thoughts.  It will fill the empty spaces in your heart and put your worries at bay for awhile.  It’s kind of like going on a mini-vacation.  You still have stuff to deal with when you get back home, but you are more refreshed, have access to your internal resources, and a renewed buoyancy that will help you deal more efficiently with your life.  And it will also make you feel better.  Better than you felt before.

And that’s when you will feel gratitude!

Gratitude for the little things; the smile from the checker, the kindness of a stranger.  Thankfulness for what you have; a roof over your head, dinner in the oven.  Appreciation for those around you; the people who care, who show up, who listen to you rant and smile at your jokes.

No matter what is causing you pain, or making you scared, or keeping you up at night…. Feel it and know that although it hurts or it’s scary  – know that this storm, as all storms, will pass..  Someday this will all be behind you.  The sun will come up again.  A new dream will surface.  And love will find you.

And in the meantime, distract yourself with wholesome activities… find moments of grace and peace, laughter and ease…and before you know it,  you will be able to appreciate Thanksgiving after all!