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When you’re a one-year-old puppy, you’re thankful for everything. And I do mean everything.
Every morning when I go downstairs to let them out, my puppies greet me as if having a mom is the greatest gift in the history of the world. Breakfast? Same deal. The menu never changes, but they behave as if they have never been served finer food. We walk much the same route each day, yet they act as if every bush, fence and street corner is a fascinating new discovery. They love their bedraggled toys passionately – even the ones that have lost their squeakies. They moan with pleasure when they curl up in the kitchen chairs. To be allowed into the living room to lay in front of the fire is nothing short of sheer joy even though they do it almost nightly.
I think it’s gratitude like this (well, maybe a little less bouncy and slobbery) that is the whole point of Thanksgiving. Though they might be among the blessings you count, the thanksgiving that we give each November isn’t for a pile of new presents, or a new job or a new car. It’s for the abundance that fills our lives every single day. It’s for the bounty we too rarely notice, let alone take a moment to give thanks for.
Thankfully, the gratitude we cultivate on Thanksgiving is available to us all year long. As those of us who practice yoga know, gratitude is just as much a habit or practice as unrolling a yoga mat is. Each day as we move and breathe on our mats, we learn to appreciate the little things. Interestingly, it’s the challenging days that teach us the most about gratitude. On a day when we feel uncoordinated, tight, weak, or tired we still feel good for having practiced. Yoga doesn’t seem to care if we’re at the top of our game. It delivers its benefits no matter what. In the afterglow of our practice, we learn to celebrate that we have a mat to unroll. We learn to rejoice in the fact that our body can stretch and bend as much as it does. We learn to revel in the knowledge that we’re always able to learn and to change – even on the hardest days.
Practice enough yoga and I guarantee you’ll catch yourself having little grateful moments off your mat as well. Here are a few of my recent favorites:
- “Isn’t it nice that I found this sunbeam to sit in?”
- “Wasn’t it kind of my husband to go get the car so I didn’t ruin my new shoes in this rain?”
- “Oh my goodness! The puppies slept until almost 7:00 and so did we!”
- And, in the midst of the most inane, ADD-riddled conversation I can recall, I caught myself thinking, “I love that we’re all together around this dinner table.”
As I count my blessings this Thanksgiving Day, I feel blessed and rich beyond measure. While my riches have nothing in common with the treasures from my childhood fairy tales, and my blessings may not look very special to anyone else, they are mine and I am profoundly grateful. Among the blessings I’m counting today is the opportunity to share a few of the gifts of this amazing practice (and my significantly less amazing life) with you.