“I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.” Henry David Thoreau
In the United States, today is the official holiday set aside for gratitude and togetherness. Just let that sink in for a moment.
Every one of us is precious in some way. This is a primary reason to be thankful. Today is a special day we can take the time to sit quietly and reflect on the many circumstances that have happened during our lives, pleasant and unpleasant in the spirit of thanksgiving.
We have very good reasons to be sincerely thankful for the good and wonderful things that happen to us and the nice things we own. On the other hand, we generally overlook the reasons to be thankful for the bad things that have happened to us. Both the good and the bad have made us who we are.
Because gratitude for the good things comes naturally, let’s think about gratitude for the difficult things for a moment. A teacher once advised that it is wise to do so. He said we can acknowledge the difficulties by saying something like, “I am thankful I have a discerning mind that has learned to deal with life’s difficulties. I am grateful that I have become a stronger, more resilient person because of life’s trials.” There is no need to dwell on difficulties to the extent that you relive them and become sad. Simply and honestly know that everything in the past has led up to who you are.
Then it will be the time to smile and celebrate the blessings that you have received in the past and those that you have right now. As the philosopher Epictetus once taught, “He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” All of us can remember when things have gone well and have enjoyed beautiful events.
One of the greatest impulses that gratitude inspires is generosity. A truly thankful person feels compelled to share her or his auspiciousness with others. This is a feeling that is not taught to us, it springs forth spontaneously.
I think of the people who visit military bases overseas and serve the troops their thanksgiving dinners. They hope that their simple acts help alleviate some of the loneliness felt by service members spending the holiday away from home.
We can remember the many volunteers who spend their Thanksgiving Day distributing care packages to needy families or serving traditional Thanksgiving meals at homeless shelters.
Whatever you do, wherever you are, I hope you can experience the joys of gratitude today on Thanksgiving Day. Today is the greatest holiday of all.