A Magic Mantra for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving and family tension go together like turkey and cranberries–a barely tolerable experience that often leaves a dry and bitter taste in your mouth.

Actually feeling true, heart-swelling, gut-wrenching gratitude on Thanksgiving seems a faaar cry from what actually happens on this holiday, something which could oftentimes be best described as emotional dodgeball.

But it doesn’t have to be like this, whatever your family dynamics, and I have a magic mantra that puts you in control of your emotions this Thanksgiving.

This magic mantra doesn’t change crazy Uncle Eddy from breathlessly talking at lengths about Nascar. It doesn’t  miraculously causes Grandma to stop asking completely inappropriate questions about your love life. Instead, it does something to YOU that won’t allow any of that other stuff to get at you. It’s simple and profound. Here’s the magic phrase:

“I don’t need to have an opinion about that.”

(Drop mic. Exit stage)


Allowing our emotions to be directed by what other people say and do is essentially handing over our emotional steering wheel to anybody who offers to drive. And for some reason our family seems to often drive our emotions off a cliff. But allowing anyone else to drive your emotions is like letting Grandma drive you home in rush-hour traffic, despite the fact that she’s had her driver’s license legally confiscated, simply because she says she is going to do so. Instead, use the phrase, “I don’t need to have an opinion about that.”  Things can just be. They don’t need to be approved or disapproved by you.

It’s not that you don’t need to have feelings or turn into a cold and heartless person. But using the phrase, “I don’t need to have an opinion about that,” empowers you to allow inconsequential events to roll off your back. It also allows you the freedom to choose to respond rather than react to almost anything that occurs, even barbed comments hurled from your stepdad.

This might take a little practice so start practicing a day early.

When that jerk cuts you off to steal your parking spot at the grocery story after you’ve already been circling for 10 minutes, repeat “I don’t need to have an opinion about that.” And when you get elbowed out of position to get the last Dutch Crust apple pie, repeat, “I don’t need to have an opinion about that.” And when you stand in line for two hours only to buy two items, all the while a toddler is screaming ceaselessly  behind you, repeat, “I don’t need to have an opinion about that.”

Don’t be surprised if after using this mantra that feel as if you’ve had the best Thanksgiving of your life. At the end of the day, Uncle Eddy will still be yammering on about Nascar, and Grandma will still be asking whether or not you’re having sex. But YOU will be different and that will create a wonderful effect for everyone around you.

And from this unperterbed place, perhaps true gratitude can find a place in your heart. And if not, well I don’t need to have an opinion about that.

Photo by Seneca Moore

Scott Moore is a senior teacher of yoga and mindfulness in New York City and when he’s not teaching or conducting retreats, he writes for Conscious Life News, Elephant Journal, Mantra Magazine, and his own blog at scottmooreyoga.com. Scott also loves to trail run, play the saxophone, and travel with his wife and son. Check out his yoga retreats to places like Hawaii and Amalfi Coast and his Yoga Teacher Mentor Program

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