Three years ago, on Thanksgiving (it feels like 10 years after what we experienced in 2020 and 2021), I was sitting at my dining room table with over 20 relatives of all ages.
Note: If you are outside the U.S., I promise some payoff with this post despite you not celebrating this very American holiday.
The guests included my mom (who was a spry 94 and unfortunately, she has since passed away), my wife and kids, siblings, cousins, nephews, and nieces.
If you are not aware of the legend of my mom, read “Meaningful clutter” (which I wrote on her passing and it served as a eulogy; and read “May the fourth be with you forever” which I wrote on her 97th birthday chronicling her “history in direct marketing”). She always made me proud. Thanksgiving is a good time to remember those we have lost…in addition to what I cover in this post.
There might have been a stranger or two who wandered in because they heard tales of Aunt Elaine’s sweet potato casserole, complete with marshmallows, pineapple, cherries and whatever extra gluten and sugar could possibly be added. Aunt Elaine is also gone but her recipe lives on.
At some point during the meal, I looked around the table, feeling grateful for my family, their health and general well-being–but noticed most (if not all) of the millennials present were looking at their smartphones under the table.
I went out to the other room where my phone was parked, came back, and texted one of my nephews (the youngest of the “kids”):
“Could you please pass the salt?”
The response was exactly what I was looking for: An abrupt head turn towards me, a quick pass of the salt, and a smartphone falling to the floor. 🙂
I got my stuffing seasoned appropriately and immediately; and I was also able to get the “kids” to put down their phones (for a few minutes anyway) and partake in some lively banter instead of looking at pictures from their Facebook friends (who were also not paying attention at their Thanksgiving celebrations), posting food and other nonsense.
This year’s meal will entail more Tik Tok than Facebook…Facebook is so 2015.
Of course, the only restriction on the banter was “no politics.”
My mom was the happiest of all with the phones silenced because she doesn’t own a smartphone and she couldn’t text if she had one…BUT she can talk about anything and everything to anyone (including politics, unfortunately) …as long as someone will listen.
I still can’t believe that was three years ago.
This year, after the voids of 2020 and 2021 (there was a pandemic in case you were lucky enough to sleep through it), being together in person in 2022 will clearly be different…and there will surely be some welcome improvements.
Not everything was ruined by the pandemic.
You can’t keep a killer holiday like Thanksgiving down for long.
Obviously, everyone will be grateful to partake in all the gluten and sugar that is Thanksgiving…and we will pick up right where we left off with all that lively banter (without my mom which will be sad).
And if we can keep everyone’s smartphone in silent mode, only being used as “place cards” for seating, that will be a huge improvement.
I will suggest, as I have during past Thanksgiving meals, that it is not a time for “resolutions” –those are reserved for the New Year.
And if we went with the old reliable Thanksgiving resolution “to be grateful, thankful and kind to everyone around us,” we’d be off that wagon a day later on Black Friday as we trample our neighbors in the mosh pit leading into Wal-Mart.
Hopefully we will agree once again that Thanksgiving is more of a time to make “declarations” rather than resolutions because a public declaration has more legs…at least longer than a day.
Could be a semantic difference…but please humor me.
If those assembled are up for it, we will go around the table and declare what we were all thankful for at that moment…and hopefully forever.
We will take everyone’s short term “happiness temperature” which will hopefully lead to everyone’s long term “joy temperature.”
Another semantic distinction?
Please check out the P.S. for more on the difference between happiness and joy.
And back to the difference between resolutions and declarations.
I define resolutions as micro changes you want to make in your life–and you make them on January 1st every year–and if you’re lucky they last until February 1st.
I define declarations as macro statements that can encompass many micro resolutions within them.
For example, it would be a resolution to lose 10 pounds; a declaration would be a commitment to a healthy lifestyle.
And if done right, declarations can last a lifetime. Or at least a full year perhaps?
Declarations are only short lived if you allow them to be…just the act of declaring them in public creates some built-in accountability.
Resolutions become short lived because they are rarely spoken (i.e., declared) in a big crowd of loved ones…and they just run their course when we get bored with them.
As I said above, maybe this is just a semantic distinction (for the purposes of this post).
All I know is that gratefulness and thankfulness are not “Thanksgiving resolutions.”
They are so much more, sentiments that go way beyond Thanksgiving Day into every day the entire year.
For the past 6 years I have used this space for my “Thanksgiving blog” to explore various aspects of gratitude and appreciation…and how they do battle with their arch enemies, jealousy and envy.
Four years ago I wrote Gratefulness is not a Thanksgiving resolution (and have repeated that post on Thanksgivings previous)…and it told a story that created a hack on how to deal when jealousy or envy creeps into your brain…and then immediately flip the switch to gratefulness and appreciation.
If you haven’t read it before, or if you are new to my online family, read it here and give me your take.
Thanksgiving 2020 (and possibly 2021) was no different when it came to these sentiments…however most of us practiced our thankfulness in smaller crowds…or on Zoom…and we were forced to share our respective feasts independently with no hugging.
It was also lonelier as many of us were cooking for four rather than forty.
While it was still meaningful, our declarations were heard by far fewer family members, loved ones and friends…and I hope you will make up for lost time in 2022.
No more COVID excuses. 🙂
And since Thanksgiving resolutions…er…declarations…span at least an entire year, we can now all get back on the gratefulness/thankfulness train for the next 365.
Pro tip to make it easier to block out envy and replace it with gratitude:
Stay off Facebook…er…Instagram…er…Tik Tok…and refuse to take in everyone else’s glamorous front stage (which is designed to make you envy them) as the truth.
Instead, assume, because of their need to brag so much, that their back stage might just be a hot mess.
I see this play out every day among the members of my Titans Xcelerator virtual mastermind and with my private coaching clients as well.
When high-achieving entrepreneurs and business leaders allow their emotions, specifically jealousy and envy, get in the way of doing their best work, it can be tragic…and some of the most meaningful work I do with them is to keep those kinds of distractions away and only focus on the tasks at hand.
I can’t stop them from paying attention to the myriad of “look at me posts” on social media or in their email In Box…but getting them to dismiss them as information and not ultimate truth is step one.
Then, I encourage them to seek advice from some of those “fiction writers” rather than stew in laments of, “why can they do that and I can’t?”
And…if you find yourself being envious of a perfect stranger, stop that right now.
It’s not worth the emotional energy when you don’t know all of the facts behind what seems like their perpetual, wonderful lives.
Here’s another pro tip:
Enter every relationship, room, and Zoom screen with the phrase, “I want it to matter that we met” (which was shared by a Titans Xcelerator member on our call this past week).
That is, contribute and take what you can from those who share with you and discard what is not pertinent or relevant to your life education, especially when envy or jealousy creeps in.
When you are envious of someone’s feats of strength, especially people you know well, there’s an opportunity to get advice from them.
Ask them questions like:
“How did you do that?”
“Are there tips you can give me how you got there?”
“How do you think I could do that too?”
If it’s really going so well for them, they will be willing to share their magic formula when you ask them.
I guarantee it.
And then you simply drink up the knowledge as good karma on their part—that is, drink up the knowledge they share with gratitude as opposed to going down a rabbit hole of misplaced jealousy.
It’s all upside for you (and them).
Don’t forget to thank them with sincerity for all of it… discard what’s not useful later…with no judgment and zero envy.
The result will be that you will love them rather than envy them while picking up some free wisdom in the process.
Sounds easy, doesn’t it?
I know it’s not.
But it is simple.
However, when you conquer eliminating envy from your life, it is so freeing.
Envy is an emotion that causes illness…and I didn’t make that up.
According to the Brazilian psychoanalyst, philosopher, and social scientist Norberto R. Keppe, in his book, The Origin of Illness:
The envious person has inverted values because he rejects what is positive: goodness and happiness—and then when he has made a mess of his life, he complains that he doesn’t feel well…In order to be healthy, we must be grateful, but if our envy is too strong, we will reject any feelings of gratitude.
I maintain—and again, it’s not easy—to allow your emotional state to go to gratefulness for those you are envious of by recognizing you are envious and then getting them to share with you their simple (or complex) human tricks.
This can be especially difficult in the marketing world because most braggarts on social media are only showing you the front stage about their business (and life exploits) and don’t give you any of the bad news that comes with it…and there is plenty of bad news where there’s good news.
I’m not saying we should wish bad things on people…but know that for every big win comes accompanying losses. Which are all learning experiences which you should also try to hear about too.
Plus, most keep score based on the money they are making or the material wealth they are accumulating…which for me, gets awfully tiring.
Chances are if they are bragging about how much they have made or accumulated with their “toolkit of perceived enviable tricks,” I cut everything in half and walk away.
And it’s often less than half.
I can’t prove this…I just know it’s true. 🙂
On the other hand, if they are legit in their deeds and cash balances, then you’re back to asking them about it, and allowing them to teach you what they have learned to get there, both the good and the bad.
Why be sick with envy when you can find joy with gratefulness?
P.S. I want to share this video from actor Mathew McConaughey (which I shared with you last year on Thanksgiving) where he makes a distinction between “happiness” and “joy.”
It’s only 9 minutes and I guarantee you will find it very enlightening, even if you watched it last year.
It is another spin (of sorts) on envy vs. gratefulness but it is about the results you get from the day-to-day journey of life…and he expresses his thesis much better than I expressed mine.
Hey…give me a break…he’s a professional actor.
And I am not envious of that. 🙂
P.P.S. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in my online family.
And for those outside the United States, you can also take some time to be grateful…and I suggest you eat a big meal with your family and friends, sharing gratitude for being together. This practice doesn’t need a holiday to make it real. 🙂
I wish everyone in my online family happiness today…and joy forever.