We’re one week away from the big turkey day — the American holiday of food, family, and football. We cook, eat, sleep, and maybe go around the table to name one thing we are thankful for.
Lots of us are going to travel — across town or across the country — to be at the dinner table with family and friends. For most of my life, a holiday dinner was the only time of the year when multiple families gathered in one place.
And it has almost always been a mixed bag. Cozy sweaters, delicious food, hot beverages, a little extra wine, and a ton of pretending and pressure.
Be nice. Don’t make waves. Smile. Only say good things about yourself. Don’t let people know that you’re struggling. Only talk about positive things. Eat pie and watch football, even if you want neither.
And, for fuck’s sake, don’t get political! Don't mention the genocide at the dinner table.
Not only is this debilitating, it was a reason for more than a decade that I avoided going to home for the holidays. I just can’t deal with this fakery.
So, I’m calling for an Honest Thanks.
For you and me and the society we want.
If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you know that I really value gratitude and praise. Praise is so important it is one of the 5 Pleasure Principles to liberating your desire and designing a life of sensational sex and epic love.
Praise is not just a simple “thanks” or “good job.”
It is a pathway to change our consciousness, to deepen our connections, to shift our emotional landscape into calm or joy, to find common ground, and to restore trust in our relationships.
Let me spell it out for you.
Gratitude is the quality of being thankful.
Praise is to express your gratitude, approval, or admiration of or toward a person or entity.
Gratitude is gratefulness, thanks, appreciation.
Praise is to compliment, applaud, congratulate, adore.
Gratitude is a set of feelings we have inside us.
Praise is our external, verbal expression of those feelings.
This gratitude praise package has been shown in longitudinal studies to be the #1 predictor of long-lasting and fulfilling relationships. In other words, people who express their gratitude to each other have longer marriages, partnerships, and friendships with higher levels of satisfaction, trust, and love.
Gratitude is also a key ingredient in reducing stress, increasing relaxation — both physically and emotionally — and generally feeling more grounded, stable, and open to joy. We get these good benefits when we are expressing gratitude or receiving it from someone else.
And here’s the thing many of you want to know:
We need more relaxation for great sex and fantastic orgasms.
Not all of us, in every moment of arousal, but most of us most of the time.
Studies tell us that the majority of women need to feel relaxed and connected to their partners in order to be willing to engage in sexual play or erotic contact that could lead to sexual play. And most women need to feel relaxed in their arousal in order to get to orgasm.
That means that stress, pretending, bottling all your feelings inside, hiding your pain, never truly expressing gratitude (to others or to yourself) or hearing it from your partner inhibits your sexual happiness.
We humans like gratitude and praise because we internalize it as encouragement and acknowledgement. We need to be seen and understood by each other to believe that we belong with and are safe with each other.
That isn’t just science. That is hard wired into our DNA.
You can take on this call for an Honest Thanks by doing these 3 things:
“Thank you for sending me a care package with this sex toy in it. I really love how you go out of your way to let me know you love me. You consistently choose gifts for me that I actually want and do enjoy. This lets me know that you do listen to me and want me to be happy.”
“I really appreciate you helping me _________ (pay that bill, complete this house project, stay up late and figure out these finances with me) because I’ve been ashamed of not being able to do it on my own. Thank you for supporting me when I was stuck. I am so grateful.”
"I know we disagree about __________ (our children's study habits, the viability of capitalism as a sustainable economic system, what color to paint our bedroom, whether we all need to go to my dad's house for the holidays), and I'm really thankful that you and I can talk about it with love and understanding. When you hear me out, I feel safe to tell you how I feel, and I really appreciate that you feel safe telling me what you're thinking."
"Thank you for going slow last night. I wasn't feeling really turned on and excited about sex when we first got into bed together. Thanks for checking in with me, keeping eye contact, and telling me you love me. That made it easier for me to warm up to penetration and really enjoy it and enjoy you."
Here’s the thing: This kind of gratitude requires your courage to be vulnerable. It requires you to reveal yourself in the process of praising someone else. And that is where the magic is.
I dare you. I dare you to be truly honest in your thanks.