Thanksgiving: A Recipe for Good Health

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Thanksgiving: A Recipe for Good Health
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About the Author

Gary J. Machan

Gary J. Machan

Gary Machan serves on the Community Advisory Research Committee for the Canadian Index of Wellbeing. Through the course of his career he has received several provincial awards including the 2nd Stage of Medicare, Ontario Tobacco Network Innovation Award for Excellence, and Food Champion Award. In addition, Mr. Machan is an associate with the Centre for Inner Freedom where his work was featured by Tom Harpur in his best selling book ‘Finding the Still Point’.

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With the arrival of Fall and the turning of the autumn leaves, it strikes me as timely to pay homage to one of my favorite times of the year, namely the celebration of Thanksgiving. This is more significant than it might seem at first glance, as ours is a culture in which the word ‘enough’ is not one that is widely cultivated, in contrast to its counterpart greed.

Despite the extent to which our culture breeds ‘not enough-ism’, I believe that there is within us a deeper knowing that we are the recipients of gifts and blessings that far exceeds anything we have done to merit such abundance. And, in particular, I am speaking of those gifts that have no price tag. Love. Friendship. For-give-ness.

“If the only prayer you gave is ‘thank you’ that would suffice.” Meister Eckhart

The tragedy of our time is not that most of us are in real need, but rather we take so much for granted such as: the incredible array of fall colours, your spouse who knows the real you and still has not run for the hills, your heart that quietly beats 2.5 billion times through your lifespan, and the universe which had it expanded a trillionth of a second sooner or later would have imploded and we would not be here.

Is this not the stuff of miracles? Awesome? Deserving of an occasional word of thanks.

And yet, this is not how are we programmed. The average North American is bombarded with an average of 5000 brands/ads per day! Each one is cleverly crafted to make us believe that we need to have ‘that thing we don’t have’ in order to feel good about ourselves. Never mind, the wealthy are often the most miserable. Outwardly affluent, but inwardly impoverished.

Research demonstrates that after one passes a certain threshold in which basic needs are met, far from health and wellbeing increasing in proportion to income, it actually starts to decrease, as does life expectancy. In fact, wealthy Americans have poorer health status than low income people from other countries where there is greater income equity.

Likewise, there is ample research which speaks to the numerous benefits of gratitude i.e. better physical health, better mental health, stronger social relationships, better self-esteem, better sleep. So much so, it is wonder physicians don’t prescribe a daily dose of gratitude for their patients.

From a community standpoint, one of the real benefits of fostering a culture of gratitude is the extent to which it is a precursor to generosity. Simply stated, grateful people tend to be generous people. And generosity is the ultimate virtue and foundation on which true community is built.

As we enter this time of thanksgiving, I invite you to let this be a time when you take pause and consider all of the many blessings that life has bestowed on you. All of Grace’s tender mercies, interventions, protections. Better still, let it be a time to start your own daily practice of counting your blessings so that you might enjoy a greater sense of inner abundance.


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