This is a repost of what I said on Nov. 21, 2012. It’s still on target, and I could see no reason to rewrite it. Happy Thanksgiving to those of you who celebrate it.
And now, for a non-political, non-denominational nod to the value of gratitude…
Thanksgiving Day is upon us–at least for those of us who live in the United States. What Mom or Dad or Grandma used to say is true. We do have a lot to be thankful for. Even when things aren’t going so very well at all, a lot of stuff is going right that we often don’t take the time to acknowledge.
This year I’m being thankful for the very act of being thankful. It’s like a wonder drug. When I take the time to look at all the good things in my life and utter a prayer of gratitude, I raise my happiness index into the ozone. Yep. Be thankful; be happy.
So what am I thankful for this soggy Wednesday-before-Thanksgiving?
I’m thankful for where I live–in a warm house in a place that hasn’t been ravaged by hurricanes or wildfires or horrendous snow storms. But I’m also thankful that I live in a culture that helps when those bad things happen. And that gets itself up, dusts itself off, and gets on with getting back on its collective feet when it does. Generosity and grit build a pretty solid community, and I am lucky indeed to be in a country like that.
I am thankful for what I get to do with my time. I love what I do. It doesn’t always go the way I want, but it’s the right path and I can feel that to the bottom of my soul. But I’m also thankful for the years (yes, years!) that I’ve spent wandering around in the emotional dark trying to figure it out. That painful time was an important step in assuring that where I walk so happily now is solid ground. I’m also thankful that I already know I will likely circle back around through that trying territory again at some point in the future. That is okay–because the trip will come with reconfirmation of all I value and how to best use my time in this life.
I’m thankful for family and friends. Loving and being loved is the glue of a good life. But I’m also thankful for the times I’ve been in that space of “alone.” Connection keeps my world warm, but sometimes, I need a splash of solitary “cold water” to help me get back on track with how I am treating the people in my life–and myself.
I am thankful for sunshine, blue skies, lovely warm weather, and the chance to hike high in the mountains of this beautiful place I’m blessed to live when the weather allows. But I am also grateful for these truncated days of late fall when it’s dark before dinner and the rain just keeps coming. The short days remind me that one of the greatest gifts of being human is the need to believe when things are dark and slow. We live “not knowing” and have to learn to trust that the sun will bring the long days back, that all is well, and that we can get through the hard times if we just keep going.
Yes, I am thankful. And that makes me happier than anything else I can think of to do. An attitude of gratitude cuts a clear path to enjoying life–regardless of whether what’s coming down at the moment is wonderful or not-so-grand.
As you prep the turkey or sit down to the feast, wind your way to Grandmother’s house in bumper to bumper traffic or wait in line for TSA at the airport, give thanks. And be thankful most especially for the times and things in your life that don’t seem like pluses. They’re there for a reason, and the reason is good. You just have to understand it.
To those of you with an official holiday for giving thanks in the offing, Happy Thanksgiving! To those of you who don’t have it on your calendar, give thanks anyway. It will make you happy. (And then you have one more thing to give thanks for.)