Why Turkeys Don’t Fly

by John Ryder, Ph.D.

Perhaps turkeys can fly, but they prefer to walk to feel grounded?  Actually, I have seen wild turkeys take
to flight, not very far and not very high.  I guess that made them easy to hunt even with the primitive
muskets the pilgrims used when they landed in New England a long time ago.  They do make a good and
plentiful meal.  That is probably how turkeys became the classic fair for our Thanksgiving.  The concept
of this holiday actually goes back to the earliest days of civilization where people gave thanks for a
bountiful harvest.  Today, Thanksgiving has lost much of its important meaning because we are so far
removed from the “harvest” part and have not had a major problem obtaining food for many generations.  
This year is different, with the economic troubles and threats of things getting worse, we must stop to
reflect and consider what makes us grateful, what can we say “thank-you” for and what can we do to
safeguard our future.

To begin, I wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving, one that is plentiful, surrounded by good friends
and family with no stress or tension.  Allow me to suggest that if you make an extra effort to turn this
holiday into a special opportunity to refocus on gratitude it will double in value.  We all say “thanks” for
the things people do for us, but how often do we stop and think about all the special efforts someone has
made to help us take care of our mind, body or soul?  The key is to ask yourself this question: “Where
would I be now, if I did not have this person in my life?”  That should be a sobering thought.  All of a
sudden, the pesky things that person does vanish and we become aware of value they have in our life.  
How much easier it becomes to appreciate the special meaning and role they have for us.  Now, the next
question is: “How can I express my gratitude to this person so they know why I feel they made my life
better?”  The answer can be found in explaining what they did or said that made you feel good.  

You must realize that we all appreciate gratitude; even for those of us who give that polite protest “No need to thank me, I am glad to do it.”  The act of giving
thanks is a universal expression of respect and acknowledgment which is a very important part of the exchange of energy between people.  If we were to stop
expressing thanks wouldn’t that make it harder for others to continue to be kind and generous?  Conversely, if we make an extra effort to demonstrate our
appreciation for the good things others say or do, wouldn’t that encourage them to be even nicer?  

Gratitude is something we learn to do better over a lifetime.  Sure saying “thanks” may be enough, but letting the other person know exactly how much
something means to you goes a long way past thanks.  Here is the “Gratitude Rule” never just say “thanks” when you can explain how much some act means to
you or how it helped you.  Not only do you double the acknowledgment, you also affirm to yourself the true value of the other persons actions.  This concept
extends to our overall situation as well.  Despite the economic turmoil, most Americans have a tremendous amount to be grateful for.  When we focus on the
positive side of things it becomes easier to ignore the difficulties and maintain that peace of mind we so much need these days.  

So speaking optimistically, lets all make the extra effort to express plenty of gratitude, perhaps we can promote more of that positive energy to reverse the
economic troubles and bring about greater prosperity and happiness for all.  Who cares why turkeys don’t fly, we can still enjoy them and celebrate
Thanksgiving all together.  Cheers!

PS – If you see somebody forget to express gratitude, you have my permission to say “Don’t be a turkey – it doesn’t fly to forget to say thank-you.”

John Ryder, Ph.D.  Psychologist, author of Positive Directions and Mental Fitness Expert.   
The New York Optimist
February 2009