This year, many families in the US are feeling fearful or anxious about having political conversations during the Thanksgiving dinner. A time to show appreciation and gratitude towards loved ones may become sour if we affirm “our” experience and opinion, without considering the experience of others or how our comments might affect them. Ask yourself, how am I feeling? And (even if it is difficult) also ask, how are you feeling? Having an enjoyable Thanksgiving meal might require us to practice and model our best emotional intelligence skills!
Jennifer Miller, a parenting expert, has published great tips to discuss politics at the Thanksgiving table. If you anticipate having difficult conversations during dinner, read Miller’s article and think in advance about the positive attributes of each family member. Try nurturing positive emotions before your family gathering, so you can be more open to experience and show gratitude.
Gratitude starts inside and flourishes through our expressions of kindness towards others. In an earlier post, I wrote about gratitude as having two different dimensions. The first dimension is internal, and it involves an increased awareness of our experiences. We can all benefit from nurturing more positive emotions in our lives, so try asking yourself one of these questions. What do you notice?
- What’s something that inspired or touched you recently?
- What made you laugh or smile today?
- What have you learned recently that will help you in the future?
- Has anyone done anything recently that made your job easier?
- How do you friends and/or family members show they care about you?
- What’s the kindest thing you have done for somebody lately?
- Who made a positive difference in your life recently?
A second dimension of gratitude is the expression of appreciation, when we become active by doing something to show we are thankful. Displaying gratitude might be difficult when we feel hurt, afraid or anxious… but it is worth the effort. In fact, research has shown that gratitude increases happiness and life satisfaction, and reduces anxiety. Start by acknowledging your own feelings and pay attention to the small moments. Then, remember what is important in your life and choose to show appreciation and return kindness to others. Practice, share it and enjoy the benefits of being grateful.
Wishing you all a great Thanksgiving holiday!