Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Thanksgiving is an American holiday designed to remember the voyage of the Pilgrims and to cherish and reflect upon what you are thankful for. Sometimes though, finding things in your life to be truly thankful for is difficult task - and almost seems like a chore. This is why creating a personal prayer of thanks is useful. It helps you to realign your thoughts and become comfortable with yourself, your life, and your family. You don't have to be be Christian, or belong to any other religion to invent your own prayer. The true spirit of it lies in your own hopes, dreams, and love of everything around you.
Figure out what you are thankful for. Everyone has something to be thankful for, even if it is simply being alive. Begin with non-materialistic things. Do you have many friends? A tight-knit family? A loving pet? After reflecting upon that, ask yourself what material things bring happiness to you and others in your life. Do you have a warm home? Safe water and food? Clean clothing on your back? If you have the last three things, you are probably better off than over half of the world's population.
Write down the above things you are thankful for. Don't bother with correct spelling, grammar, or anything else -- you're writing for yourself, not for anyone else. Just brainstorm and make the list as long as possible. Write for at least ten minutes. If you get distracted, take two minutes to write every thought that isn't what you're thankful for. This will help you get into writing what is really important, and may even lead you right into it.
Decide how long your prayer will be. If it will be a sort of mantra repeated multiple times during the day, a short prayer of under a minute (that is still thoughtful) would probably be best. Only plan to say it once or twice? If you are only going to say it after waking up or going to bed, you may want to consider a longer prayer of about two to four minutes. Use the previous times only as guidelines, and follow what your heart and head say.
Go back and read your list, and add any other details that come to mind. Don't be overly critical of yourself. Are there any names repeated again and again? Somethings that seem overwhelmingly important, such as children or a spouse? Use the things you are most thankful for as the basis of your prayer. Begin with the most important people to you, and then begin to branch off. If you are having a difficult time remembering each and every name of your favorite cashiers, waitresses, and the like, try a general phrase targeting one establishment.
Ask yourself who you want to address the prayer to. Like an envelope in the mail, your prayer also needs an address - whether it be God, the spirit of a deceased loved one, or just the Universe. Some people are most comfortable simply reciting it and letting it be "carried away". Do what you feel is best.
Recite and remember. Your prayer doesn't have to sound like poetry, but it should flow with sincerity and love. Is remembering difficult for you? Try simplifying the prayer, or perhaps writing down a few key words to jog your memory.
Avoid focusing your prayer on materialistic things. Although they are great and you should be thankful for them, it is important that you also remember the true "Thanksgiving spirit" and think of family, friends, and the people you associate yourself with.
Try praying with a friend or with a family member. Silent prayers together will give you a sense of unity and power.
Don't do this because you feel obligated to because of religion. Sincerity is key. If your heart isn't into the prayer, it doesn't accomplish much - if anything.
Don't become discouraged if your prayer doesn't come easily. Keep brainstorming until you find something that fits you.