I have made it no secret that this time of the year is my favorite. I love when the few seasonal trees we have here in “SoCal” turn color, the climate turns cooler (YES!!!), and the holidays approach.
In the past, I have stressed out a bit at the economic expectations that would loom, and watching any of the shopping channels, walking into any Target or Costco, or receiving any catalogs anytime near Halloween would just exacerbate this budget anxiety. I am dismayed that Thanksgiving has become just the day-before-the-biggest-shopping-day-of-the-year, as if Thanksgiving day is the time we need to carb load just to make it through the long lines a few hours after eating. It has been my mission to reclaim the focus of Thanksgiving, which is, to give thanks. Let’s take a look at the advantages of living a life of gratitude.
Being grateful changes an attitude of entitlement and complaint. It helps us focus on the good things that are happening to us and not the “less good”. It forces us to look at our blessings in a world where there are others not so blessed. Those of us who live in the US are living in the top 5% of the world economically. That’s incredible.
A couple of weeks ago, my professor put out a general announcement to the class, “If anyone has an old iPhone 4…….my cat needs something to play with”. Being that I actually HAVE an iPhone4 (and am happy with it, by the way) I laughingly said, “Oh, so those of us with an iPhone4 have a product so inferior that it’s only worth giving a cat to play with?” He looked at me and said incredulously, “Are you saying you actually HAVE an iPhone4?!” He was only mildly kidding. Wow. Being grateful is being happy with what you have, dude. Uh……Dr. Dude.
Being grateful begets joy! Try this, when you're having a mediocre or bad day, start listing all the things you are thankful for. It can be as small as being grateful for an awesome blow drier! The little things naturally lead to the bigger things and soon you're going to see how much you have to be grateful for and then joy just shows its pretty little head. You've just made your bad day a good one!
Anyway, I suppose what I’m saying is that it’s easy to focus on what we don’t have; in how life may not have turned out how we planned; that circumstances can be so unfair. But saying thank you to even the smallest things in our lives can shift our focus from what we don’t have to what we do have. Shifting focus will lead us to living our lives like we are the richest, most prosperous, blessed beings on the planet - because we are. Let’s stop grappling unhappily for what we don’t have and start coddling, loving what we do have. And let our blessings flow through us to bless others.
I am thankful for each one of you. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
-Tessa L. Charles