For what are you thankful? It is my hope that your mind is immediately flooded with responses. We shouldn’t have to dig very deep to be overcome with gratitude for the blessings we have all received. Most of the people with whom I work (and probably you) are among the wealthiest one percent in the world. Yet, very few feel rich. We have an array of choices each day as to what we will wear, where and when we will eat and what we will do to be entertained. Never in the history of mankind has life been easier, more comfortable and more enjoyable.
So, why is it difficult for us to feel thankful?
- It seems almost instinctual to focus our energy on getting what we don’t have rather than celebrating what we have. One of the blessings of Thanksgiving is that it calls us to pause, bring the family together around a meal of abundance and appreciate how richly we have been blessed.
- We all succumb to a mentality of entitlement. We get used to the blessings in our life far too quickly and begin to expect them. I can’t tell you how many stories I have heard from business leaders that the end of year bonuses became expectations that led to bitterness and resentment when the money was not there.
- And, even though we might not like to admit it, we can all be prone to take a little too much credit for the good things in our lives. I know you are exceptionally talented, work very hard and put in long hours, especially if you’re leading a high performance team. But, I also know that you didn’t choose your parents, the country in which you were born or your native skills. These were given to you. You started life with abundance.
Let’s use Thanksgiving to cultivate a spirit of thanksgiving that extends beyond the turkey dinner.
Here are some great ways to cultivate a spirit of gratitude:
- Before you get out of bed every morning, express three new thoughts about things for which you are grateful. It might be as simple as a good night’s sleep, the start of a new day, your comfortable bed or having food for breakfast. Starting the day with a spirit of thanksgiving will begin to set the tone for your whole day.
- Openly express five appreciations to the people I your life. We tend to appreciate our family, friends and associates far more than we tell them. Research has proven that people need five appreciations for every criticism if they are to have a healthy relationship. So, when someone holds the door open for you, stop, look them in the face and tell them you appreciate them for holding the door. Tell your partner that you appreciate them for holding your hand or listen to you talk about work. Tell your children that you appreciate them helping clear the table or doing their homework.
For what am I giving thanks?
- My wife and children are amazing. They express love and support to me every day. They bring meaning to my life.
- My friends who understand who I am, what matters to me and who believe in my gifts.
- My clients and the readers of this blog who want to make the world a better place through cultivating maturity, wisdom, perspective and love.
- My health. I can tell I am getting older, but I can still do everything I want to do. I am so grateful for my body.
- My faith. My life is rooted in the grace I have received. It is my vision, my joy and my life.