thanksgiving, gratitude, the kitten life, canadian creatives

A hush, hands clasp, heads bow, and an overwhelming sense of gratitude washes over the scene. 

I first feel gratitude towards the food: mountains of garlic-studded mashed potatoes, fluffy clouds of carrot puff, rivers of fat-laced gravy.

I feel gratitude towards the people near: those who gave me life; those who support my creative endeavours; those who enable me to pay my bills; those who love me.

The people far: those who are faceless, voiceless, powerless; those doing their best to make the world a better place; those who have passed on and left their mark on the hearts and minds of those still here; those who honour the infinite nature of time and energy.

Another year, another Thanksgiving weekend upon us to put gratitude at the forefront of our thoughts and actions.

And as I fall into a Tryptophan-induced haziness of exhaustion and over-indulgence, my first reflections for Thanksgiving 2017 are ones of The Path.

The Path, as we like to define it here at The Kitten Life, is the journey we're all on in this space between our birth and death, towards enlightenment.

Enlightenment can be described as the end of suffering that comes when we release all attachment.

How would you describe enlightenment? Do you feel like you're on a path towards something? 

During a talk on spiritual enlightenment, Eckhart Tolle once said, “if you think you are so enlightened, go and spend a week with your parents."

If I was feeling more bitter at present (which I am not because I have a belly full of turkey and a weekend of lovely memories behind me), I might say that we are not all on the path; that one must be conscious of their capacity for growth and goodness, and their place within the cosmos, in order to be on it.

However, I am feeling much more on the enlightened side of the spectrum at present, and thus feel that The Path is universal - just as being human is a universal experience - and I am grateful to meet so many people experiencing different parts of their own journeys.

Last year we wrote about "Why Showing Gratitude Leads to Joy & Happiness," with the main thesis being that gratitude begets joy, and not the other way around. But more importantly, that even if/when we "fake" gratitude, the simple act of forcing ourself to think of the things we're grateful for starts a chain reaction of positivity.

This year, we're reflecting on the universal experience of moving towards a common goal, and the gratitude we have for one another: those we love, those we loath, and every experience along the way: the good along with the bad.

With that in mind, I feel gratitude towards the simple fact that I am alive, along with so many other people, all of whom are grasping and struggling and working their way towards peace; whatever that means to them.

If we were to entertain thoughts of armageddon, the apocalypse, natural disaster, or even personal misfortune, would there truly not be anything to be grateful for in those worst-of situations? Is the mere fact that we're alive, conscious, at this present moment, enough for there to be something to feel grateful for?

(Can you tell we love thought experiments?)

And so we want to know: Is gratitude a universal concept?  What do you feel gratitude towards? Does gratitude really lead to joy?  Or does one first need to feel happy, or at least the absence of suffering, in order to feel gratitude?

Let us know in the comments, and from the deepest, most joyful and grateful parts of ourselves, we wish you another wonderful Thanksgiving.