Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Series #3: Giving Thanks

The spirit of today’s holiday resides in our ability to gives thanks.  Many of us will find ourselves thankful for our families, our health, our station in life.  We will be thankful for the armed forces and the sacrifices they make for our safety; we will be thankful for our religions, and for the sacrifices associated with each of these.  We will thank the people around us for their love and caring, we will post generic status updates on facebook wishing everyone happy thanksgiving, or tweet our thanks in 140 characters or less.  Some of us will blog about it and some of us will simply offer thanks to an empty room.
The meaning of the holiday sometimes gets lost in what has recently become tradition.  We stare blankly at the TV, the floats of the Macy’s day parade dance across the screen, pushed along by marching bands and little known singers.  We find ourselves wrapped up in the meal, eager for our favorite stuffing dish or drooling in anticipation of our favorite pie.  We go back and forth with our favorite football rivals celebrating our victories and agonizing in our defeats.  We cherish post meal naps, leftover turkey sandwiches, egg nog, or the family trip to the movie theater.
While all of this distraction swirls around us, tugging and pulling our attention away from the central theme of the holiday, some of us drift away from the idea of being truly thankful.  Avoid the temptation of giving lip service only, proclaiming thanks without meaning.  Instead of only saying that you are thankful for something, actually mean it.  If you find yourself in a place in life that seems to not merit thanks, dive deeper; I am sure you can find some reason to be thankful.
There are many people who live lives that seem absent of elements deserving thanks.  The universe appears to have conspired against these people, driving all positive elements from their experiences.  No matter how low the world seems to have pushed you, there is always something to be thankful for.  
Find it.  Pick yourself up.  Focus on anything good.  It could be as simple as the oxygen in the air you just breathed.  Find some joy in the sun shining, in the color of the leaves, in the fact you are alive to experience at all.  Be thankful for anything, no matter it’s insignificance.  By finding thanks in it, you have just increased its value, and by feeling thanks, you have increased yours.
Finding one thing to be truly thankful for will allow you to expand your sphere of thanks.  Move it beyond the bounds of that one item, encompass your surroundings, find anything to be thankful for beyond yourself.  Eventually, your thanks will grow; you will find that as you allow it to expand outwardly, it will soak in, bringing the feeling of thanks to the center of your being.
As you travel through this Thanksgiving holiday, I encourage you to review what you are thankful for.  Do you skim the surface, or do you allow your thanks to delve deep?  Are you the kind of person whose every action is determined by a feeling of gratitude and graciousness or do you only play at being thankful.  This Thanksgiving, choose the first option.  Allow yourself the freedom to live thanks and not just give it.  Be the person whose actions reflect their words.  Enjoy the feeling of existing in a world in which thanks are necessary and not just optional.  
The excitement today brings should be a celebration of a year of thankfulness, not just one day to honor that towards which we are thankful.  Thanksgiving 2010 should be the canon which launches you into a full year of an attitude of gratitude, ensuring every experience between this Thanksgiving and next is received with a spirit of thanks.  Appreciate what the universe has to offer you; find something in every situation to be thankful for.
I am thankful for everything in my life, for every good and bad experience, for every good and poor choice I have made.  I am thankful for everyone who has ever participated in my experience, everyone under whose influence I have operated and everyone I have had the opportunity to influence.  I am thankful for my teachers and my students, those I have met and those I have not.  I am thankful for the plethora of lessons I still have left to learn and to teach.  I am thankful for family and friends, for food, and sports, and the Macy’s parade, and for dog and cat sitters.  I am thankful for love and happiness, for joy and tears.  I am thankful for everything the universe has chosen to offer me.
I am thankful that you have taken the time to read my blog today.  Be thankful for something, big or small, it does not matter.  Simply be thankful, the rest will follow.

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