We are a country of rituals and holidays. It is inherent in human beings to reflect on certain basic realities and celebrate their existence. As each duly designated holiday passes, I sometimes wonder whether we truly benefit from the holiday beyond the fact that we have a day off from our usual routine. Has the day added anything to our consciousness? Are we any better for having participated in the day?
This week we have the holiday of Thanksgiving (or is it Thanks-taking?). As you think of it, do you consider it as a day of obligation or opportunity? Obligation might include having to go to someone’s house, stressfully be with family, endure insipid relatives, and overdo the consumption of plentiful food and drink.
Opportunity offers something different. It invites us to ponder our lives from a positive grateful perspective. Who are the people, what are the circumstances, of our life for which we might give thanks?
May I invite you to use this opportunity to reflect on possible sources of gratitude. See if you can come up with seven answers to the following questions:
1. Who have been the people of your past for whom you are grateful?
2. Who are the people currently in your life for whom it is appropriate to give thanks?
3. What are the events and circumstances in your life today that elicit thanksgiving?
After you have finished, share your list and the reasons for choosing them with a significant person in your life. A pleasant conversation will result, guaranteed!
If you take some time and seriously reflect on these questions you may well be surprised at what you find. Some of the negative or hurtful people and events of your life may actually have had, or do have, a positive influence on your personal and professional life. That difficult teacher, challenging supervisor, idiotic boyfriend, outrageous first wife, being fired, car accident, etc… may in the long run have benefited you greatly. Oftentimes we learn some basic lessons of life from some tough circumstances and seemingly negative people.
If your focus this Thanksgiving is on gratitude instead of grudge, seeing what is right in your life instead of wrong, it can be an opportunity to truly celebrate the day. Perhaps the day could include actually expressing your thankfulness to these special people. After all, they have been the instruments in making you the incredible person that you are!