Enthusiasm vs. Gratitude

In two days many people around our nation (and expats around the world) will gather to celebrate Thanksgiving. Last year at this time few people were traveling and less were gathering for this American holiday out of concern for COVID and care for the vulnerable.

I've been thinking lately about the difference between eagerness and thanks, between happiness and joy and between enthusiasm and real gratitude.

Some "good" feelings originate from outside- for example, the anticipation of our favorite team's game or the prospect of a delicious home-cooked meal. Excitement builds due to knowing that something positive is going to happen. There's nothing inherently wrong with that. It's the glee of a girl on Christmas eve or the gladness of a groom on the morning of his big day.

But it's important to know that gratitude and joy are what we possess inside. These are innate in us. They may get stirred up and expressed when we experience a wonderful event, but these are not manufactured emotions nor fleeting feelings. A so-called "happy meal" at McDonalds does not last. Perhaps it even makes you and your inside unhappier. Why? Our bodies and souls crave more than junk food. We want what lasts and what fulfills.

Heartfelt gratitude is a potent potion for creating positive change. When you focus on what’s good in your life, you minimize your brain’s natural propensity to sense threats and negativity. This helps you experience increased joy and that goes not just for you but also those around the table of your gratitude.

Therein is the gift of Thanksgiving as a word, a feeling and an event: it's about connection. A true thanking of someone for what the goodness and connection they have stirred up inside of you.

Whether you will be Zooming your wine toasting or cracking turkey jokes in person, whether you will be at a table of one or one among a cornucopia of plenty, Alice and I wish you a...