Many of us are preparing for holidays that involve some loss—less togetherness, less travel, the loss of job security while we shop for gifts. Sadness is the emotion that comes from loss, yet we often view sadness as dangerous, unwanted, too uncomfortable to feel more than fleetingly. We unthinkingly believe that loss is unsurmountable or means we didn’t deserve it to begin with. But gratitude can flow from sadness. This Thanksgiving, instead of forcing yourself to be grateful, see if you might notice your sadness and follow it for just a little. What is it that you are missing? The loss of a tradition, the way things used to be, the loss of something you were looking forward to?

Think back to the last time you had it, perhaps to last Thanksgiving when you were gathered with people you love, young and old, near and far. Linger a little and observe what this FELT like. Observe how warm and good this felt. How it felt so safe to be with people who know you well, even if it’s not always easy. Observe how it is really wonderful to have things you want to do and food you love to cook and people you want to be with. Sadness tells us we’ve lost something we care about—if we go back to observe what it felt like to have it, we’ve just allowed gratitude to flow from our sadness. – by Marget Thomas, PsyD

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