Thanksgiving is next week, and while it may be more challenging to be thankful in the midst of a pandemic that is limiting much of what we used to look forward to during this special time of the year, it is still possible.

While it is easier to complain about what is going wrong than to notice what is going right, we still have many blessings all around us.

Many prayers before meals include thanks for the food. There are many people who are behind that prayer: the farmers who grow and harvest the food, factory workers who package it, truckers who transport the food to the stores, employees who keep the shelves stocked and provide curbside service in area stores and the people who clean the stores.

Mat Boggs has a large online following. Founder of the Love and Relationships division of the Brave Thinking Institute, he released a video on YouTube shortly after the pandemic began called “Five Things You Can Control in Uncertain Times.”

Using the word FOCUS, he explains we can control these five things no matter what is going on in the world around us.

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“F” is for feelings. During uncertain times, people may feel sadness, loneliness and other strong emotions. We have a choice to suppress the feelings, which can increase stress and even lead to health issues, or let ourselves feel the feelings as they arise. Letting a wave of feelings move through you will be followed by a feeling of relief.

“O” is for opportunities. Albert Einstein said that in the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity. A major challenge like a pandemic carries seeds for major opportunities. Choose to look for the seeds of good.

“C” is for creativity. It has been said that necessity is the mother of invention. Instead of complaining about things you can’t do, create new experiences and traditions. While we can’t travel to be with loved ones this Thanksgiving, we can set up a Zoom dinner with loved ones. While each at our own table, we can still share conversation and stories and laughter and words of thanks for the people who bless our lives.

“U” is for understanding. Understand we’re all under extra stress and not at our best. Give others the gifts of extra grace, patience and compassion.

“S” is for stacking the gratitude. This practice counteracts the negative reports the national media bombard people with every day. Gratitude has both healing and calming powers

There are five steps in stacking the gratitude.

First, picture the smiling face of someone you love and feel that energy in your heart.

Second, picture something in your health you are thankful for – your heart beating, your lungs breathing in fresh air – and stack that feeling on top of the person you love.

Third, stack on top of the first two gratitudes something you are grateful for in your home: electricity, running water, shelter from the cold.

Fourth, visualize a sense you are grateful for: your eyes to see a beautiful sunset, your ears to hear music or being able to taste delicious food.

End the meditation by picturing the face of another loved one. Take a deep breath, open your eyes and feel the warmth of positive energy expand in your heart.

Thanksgiving is not just one day of the year, but a time to remember that living with a thankful heart can brighten all of your days.