There are many challenges in our world, on a large-scale and in our own personal lives. Gratitude makes us focus and turn our negatives into positives. We actually grow and learn from challenges. Some of the best things in life grew out of a negative circumstance. This Thanksgiving, consider this powerful emotion called gratitude.
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Life is filled with challenges: finding a job, paying for college, affording your retirement. While this may seem paradoxical, on Thanksgiving we should be thankful for frustrations and obstacles.
Often on Thanksgiving we think of the Pilgrims. The English colonialists were a grateful lot, but on religious days of thanksgiving, they focused on prayer, not feasting. Our concept of thanksgiving harkens back to the fall of 1621 when the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians celebrated the colony’s first successful harvest.
William Sydney Porter, known by his pen name O. Henry, cherished Thanksgiving as uniquely an American institution. He wrote, “There is one day that is ours. There is one day when all we Americans who are not self-made go back to the old home to eat saleratus biscuits and marvel how much nearer to the porch the old pump looks than it used to ... Thanksgiving Day ... is the one day that is purely American.”
The feast may be at your house, the home of your adult children, the grandparents or in-laws house or just a gathering of friends. Aside from overeating, we revel in remembrances of blessings and the warmth of friendship and kinship. Giving thanks is a healthy exercise in gratitude, the essence of all Thanksgiving celebrations.
A prayer written by Jonathan Sacks, chief rabbi of Great Britain, is instructive: “I thank Him for all the defeats and failures that make leadership so difficult, because the hard things are the only ones worth doing, and because all genuine achievement involves taking risks, making mistakes, and never giving up.”
True leaders thrive on challenge. If you have challenges, with your family or at work, be grateful that you have a family and a job. Challenges are learning experiences. They make you stronger and a better person. If you are not challenged, life will be boring, and you will not grow. Challenges are energizing, viewed through a lens of gratitude.
Being grateful for your innate gifts and talents can help turn negatives into positives. Some of the best things in your life grew out of a negative circumstance.
Gratitude is a powerful emotion, appreciation for what we have, not resentment for what we lack. In a consumer-oriented society, pop psychology and media messaging pushes us to focus on more, more, more. Is your glass half-full? Or half-empty?
This Thanksgiving, look at your vexing challenges and contemplate what you are learning, how you are growing, how you will be strengthened, how you will advance in character and wisdom.
The mosaic of humanity is filled with tales of both happiness and sorrow. Shelter, food and life itself are blessings for which we should say a prayer of gratitude as we join those we love and care for at the table on November 23rd.
Gratitude makes you focus on what truly is important. That is the real Thanksgiving blessing.
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