Try Thanksgiving: Try Being Thankful and Giving

We are always told never to be satisfied, to go for more, to go for broke. Yet "thanks" and appreciation requires satisfaction and contentment.

By Sam Yang - Get similar updates here

Thanksgiving is an ironic holiday for more reasons than one. Even beyond its mythical origins, it's supposed to represent a cultural idea of thanks, appreciation, and satisfaction. But we are always told never to be satisfied, to go for more, to go for broke. From inspirational memes to advice from our parents: more, more, more. Yet "thanks" and appreciation requires satisfaction and contentment—known allergens to popular culture. Focus on what you have, and you are called a conformist; focus on what you don't have, your socially constructed goals, and you are called ambitious. Thus, in this society, expectations (along with depression, anxiety, and suicides) go up, while self-fulfilling happiness goes down.

So what do we do in the absence of satisfaction? We ask for more: we eat more, we want seconds (as far as food goes, it's never enough, especially on Thanksgiving. Seconds? Yes, because I still haven't had enough!), and then the next day—Black Friday—we buy more and want more stuff because we are neither satisfied nor thankful for what we already have. Never getting our fill and mad when we can't have what we want. And what of the buzzword "gratitude"? Yes, we want to receive more of that as well. Because everyone else is entitled and never us.

Black Friday, like Black Mass, the opposite of Good Friday, named after a financial crash, named after a day when slaves were on discount, a day that used to mean looting and crime. And we still kind of do that: push, shove, trample, and take—while, for their amusement, the rich take photos to shame the poor online. Black Friday is another ironic name given to a dark, ominous day that we as consumers look forward to. But the joke is always on us. We lose and big business wins. (I get bonus rewards on my credit card this month.)

Thanksgiving, being thankful for giving, but we opt for dissatisfaction and getting. And where has it gotten us?

I have found that often, inspirational life advice is often terrible life advice. Why else would we listen to bad advice unless it guised itself as inspiring? Then we wouldn't look for logic flaws; it would only speak to our emotions. So that we may be unreasonable.

So let me give you some basic, uninspiring advice (one that hopefully speaks to your reason). For one day, try contentment. Be thankful for what you have and don't ask for more. See how 24 hours of satisfaction feels and maybe you'll ask yourself: "Hey, is this what living is supposed to feel like? Satisfying?" And if you know others who have less, try giving. Instead of always asking, what can I get, ask, what can I give. For one day, try being other-centered rather than self-centered. How could you make others happy? Put away your own passions and desires, you can come back to it tomorrow. It'll always be there.

None of this is original, as this was the point all along.

Be thankful for your allotment in an imperfect world. Though better circumstances can be imagined, far worse are nearer misses than you probably care to realize.
— Richelle E. Goodrich

We really have no Thanksgiving. We have two days of Black Friday: one day to eat more and one day to buy more. Just like every other day, except more of it.

So just this once, try Thanksgiving.