Thanksgiving is on my mind a lot, more as a practice than a holiday, although it is a pretty awesome holiday. I enjoy all of the observances that have come to be associated with Thanksgiving except Black Friday shopping.
Rather than make a list of things I am thankful for, which would be a long list both personally and professionally, I want to write just a little bit about the practice of thanksgiving. Now, if we were making a list, those things would provide some of the basis for being thankful. The practice of thanksgiving really shouldn’t be dependent on tangible things, though. Can we be thankful even if the stock market doesn’t have a banner year, our team doesn’t win a championship, our kid doesn’t get straight “A’s,” and we don’t get the promotion we sought? I hope so.
I’m sure you have heard someone recommend living with an “attitude of gratitude.” This is something I really try to do because I am truly thankful for the people and opportunities in my life. However, I encourage you to consider whether positive events and relationships lead to gratitude or if living with gratitude leads to positive events and relationships. I know I am not asking a totally original question here. People have asked, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” type questions for ages. My experience tells me that people find what they are looking for, and the lens through which they view the world limits or expands what people see.
For example, it is a choice whether we fixate on an annoying trait of someone’s or whether we recognize his or her strengths. Like everyone, I am sometimes guilty of focusing on the negative. A person with an attitude of gratitude is much more likely to be positive and have a solution focus. It really is impossible to be thankful and bitter simultaneously. John Maxwell would say that someone with an attitude of gratitude and positive outlook has an “abundance mentality” rather than a “scarcity mentality.” What better word is there for thanksgiving than abundance? Remember those overflowing cornucopias we used to color in elementary school? That’s abundance.
In our busy lives today we don’t always stop and reflect as often as we should. We don’t stop for thanksgiving and check our attitude before we make a negative social media post or send a surly email. However, if we consistently strive to practice thanksgiving, we can change the lens through which we see and experience the world, and we can become more centered around gratitude.
I want to wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving in a couple of weeks and, more importantly, wish everyone success in practicing thanksgiving each day!