03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Have A Great Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving right around
the corner, I’ve been thinking about my own love/hate relationship to this
great holiday.  It can be a
wonderful celebration of gratitude, appreciation, and family connection.  Unfortunately, Thanksgiving also tends
to be about feeling obligated to spend time with the people we’re “supposed”
to, eating too much food and feeling guilty about it, and pretending to be
grateful when we’re actually annoyed and stressed out.

What if we could make this
Thanksgiving less stressful, more fun, and actually be able to enjoy ourselves,
appreciate our family and friends (even the ones who drive us nuts), and focus
on what we’re grateful for in a genuine way? 

are some important tips you can use to make this year’s Thanksgiving one you
truly enjoy and remember (in a good way):

1)  Be you – Instead of
trying to be who you think you “should” be with your family, friends, in-laws,
or guests – just relax and be yourself! 
So often we put undue pressure on ourselves to be a certain way, impress
people (even those we know well), or do or say the things we think others want
us to.  When we let go of trying to
please everyone and we’re able to be true to ourselves, we create a genuine
sense of freedom and peace.  This also means that we think about what would
be fun for us and our immediate family to do for Thanksgiving and communicate
this to everyone else (in-laws, extended family, etc.), even if it may upset or
disappoint some of the people involved.

2)  Look for the good – Make a
commitment to focus on the things you like and appreciate about your friends
and family members, instead of obsessing about the things that annoy or upset
you about them.  We almost always
find what we look for in others and in situations.  When we let go of past resentments, we’re able to see people
with new eyes.  As the saying goes,
“holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to
die.”  Whatever we choose to do on
Thanksgiving and whomever we choose to spend our holiday with, if we make a
conscious decision to enjoy ourselves and to look for the good stuff in an
authentic way, we dramatically increase our chances of having a positive and
pleasurable experience.

3)  Make it fun and easy – Do
whatever you can for yourself and those around you to make the planning, food
preparation, clean up, and the whole Thanksgiving experience as easy, fun, and
stress-free as possible.  This
means we keep it light, share the responsibilities, ask others for help, and do
the things that we enjoy doing – instead of burdening ourselves and feeling
like a victim about it all.  Too
often we spend and waste our time and energy being uptight, doing things we
don’t truly want to do, feeling resentful towards others, and creating a lot of
unnecessary stress and frustration. 
Thanksgiving can be lots of fun, if we’re willing to go with the flow
and make it easy on ourselves and for others.

4)  Express your appreciation
for others
– One of best things we can do for other people
(on Thanksgiving or at any time) is to let them know what we appreciate about
them in a genuine way. 
Acknowledging others is a true “win-win,” as we always get to keep what
we give away to others when we appreciate them (i.e. the good feelings are
shared by us and those we acknowledge). 
There are many ways we can appreciate people on Thanksgiving:

- Write “I’m thankful for you”
cards and give them out on Thanksgiving (or mail them beforehand)

- Pick someone at the dinner
table to acknowledge, and then ask them to "pay it forward" and appreciate
someone else in the group – go around until everyone has been appreciated

- Pull people aside on
Thanksgiving (or give them a call) and let them know what you appreciate about
them specifically and genuinely

5)  Count your blessings
Remember that in the midst of all the commotion, stress, and activity of the
holiday season, Thanksgiving really is a time for us to reflect on what we’re
grateful for – in life, about others, and especially about ourselves.  Take some time on Thanksgiving to focus
on what you’re grateful for, the many blessings in your life, and the things
you appreciate about yourself.  A
great way for us to remember and to celebrate the many blessings in our life,
especially on Thanksgiving, is to take some time during our meal and allow each
person at the table to talk about what they’re grateful for in a genuine,
specific, and personal way.

This year, especially given all
that has been going on in the world, the economy, and our personal lives, let’s
challenge ourselves to make Thanksgiving more than just something we get
through or even simply a nice holiday; let’s have it be a time of reflection,
connection, and a celebration of the great fullness of life.

Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and
the bestselling author of
Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley)
Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Wiley). More info -