Thanksgiving is a reminder to open our hearts and let the love flow around you

Gathering with family, even on camera, is something special. Many families now have weekly Zoom calls where they spend several hours together, playing games, talking all together and then one-on-one, and some even have dinners together over the internet.

To have lived through this pandemic comes first on my gratitude list for this Thanksgiving. For nearly the past two years, our lives have been radically different. We are still adjusting to life with this new peril at our doorstep.

It doesn’t matter which side of the vaccine debate you are on. What does matter is that somehow you survived when almost three-quarters of a million people in the U.S. didn’t. If nothing else, this is something to be thankful for.

None of us knows what next year will bring, but we all hope for the best. In the meantime, it is always good to reflect on what you have and what you are thankful for, as this day encourages us to do every year.

This day and every day, I want to enjoy being alive and as healthy as possible, so I can see the smile on people’s faces, the light in their eyes and feel the joy in their hearts. I am grateful I’m going to be around for a while, which will make this holiday an extra special one.

Gathering with family, even on camera, is something special. Many families now have weekly Zoom calls where they spend several hours together, playing games, talking all together and then one-on-one, and some even have dinners together over the internet. I suspect there will be a few million Thanksgiving Zoom dinners this year.

Although not being able to see one another has been hard, many families say they have grown closer through this crisis and they won’t let their current regular contact through the internet slip away. Keeping in touch by sending those silly texts and memes, engaging in Facebook debates and sending the latest pics has become ever more integrated into our way of life, and I see no reason to let it end.

If you are able to sit around the table with your loved ones, you are truly blessed. Our families and friends give us so much. That’s why it’s hard for me to understand how people hold grudges for decades. Maybe this would be a good time to let those grudges go, so you too can bask in the joy of having a family who can argue with each other and still enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner.

No, you didn’t always get everything you needed or wanted from them, and maybe they made you feel bad upon occasion, but in most cases the good outweighs the bad by several metric tons. The problem is we remember the perceived insults and slights more than the magical memories of growing up and having a family care for us. Humans hold on to pain too easily, and we need to learn to let it go. Filling that space with gratitude works.

Most people don’t tend to think about emotional blocks, or their inability to let in positive emotions from people who love them. Thanksgiving is a reminder to open our hearts and let the love flow around you. To enjoy being alive right now with the people who are currently in your life. I promise it will give you more joy than holding on to things that didn’t go the way you wanted.

Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author of “The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.” Follow his daily insights on Twitter at @BartonGoldsmith.

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