November 29, 2006

Indy Shrink

Thanksgiving Equals Gratitude

Okay, so the holidays are upon us and first up is Thanksgiving. What does Thanksgiving translate into actually? Why, Gratitude, of course. And I have been writing about the virtues of gratitude in this column for several years now. So what better occasion than to turn our attention once again to this important topic. True, this column is appearing after the actual holiday, but what the heck, gratitude is relevant at all times.

So you will have stuffed yourselves with turkey and all the trimmings by the time you read this and perhaps your thoughts would more naturally drift in the direction of what strategies you might use to lose some of the weight you undoubtedly put on as a result of that huge dinner. Well, gratitude might not seem like a weight loss program, but let's look a bit closer to see if in fact there might be some possible connection.

First, in order to be grateful you will have to reduce the tonnage of resentment, anger, sense of victimization and feelings of being alienated from friends and family (which is sometimes epidemic at this time of the year paradoxically). The resultant "weight" loss of ego inflated and heavy duty miseries that the aforementioned emotions create should be a real contribution to making you feel lighter, even if the scale might not register any difference immediately.

Hey, another advantage of making gratitude a part of your everyday life is the anxiety and empty feeling that often drives people to overeat will be significantly reduced. You will be more in touch with your body and its sensations so that when you are full, you may well be more likely to stop eating, as opposed to when you are just eating to quell some unhappiness.

In that instance, your relation to your body is often numbed, so you don't realize the degree to which you have gorged yourself until after the meal when the unpleasant physical consequences of having "supersized" your Thanksgiving meal will be upon you with a vengeance.

So, the point I am trying to make is that there is a real connection between your emotional states and the way you relate to food. Gratitude is a great way to reduce anxiety, and on the upside, to create an upward spiral of good feeling. Moderation is often the outcome of feeling contented with yourself. You are more naturally able to care about your health and appearance.

What to be grateful for? How about putting it just the other way. Isn't it true that most of what your life is about is what you can be grateful for? It may take a bit of re-visioning of yourself to realize this. But so what?

Take some time to meditate on all the blessings that abound, yes even among the multitude of problems that you may feel are hounding you at any given time. Take a deep breath, focus on being compassionate towards yourself and others, and then just pick a person, place or thing to be grateful for. Try that and let me know what you think.

Frank Mosca, Ph.D. is a licensed counselor, life and marital coach with a practice in Hampton Bays and Garden City. You can see his views at puttingmindsinmotion.com.

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