Every year around Thanksgiving time, most folks stay busy preparing their home to celebrate. Whether the gathering is large, or a low-key event, the day is set aside to call to mind the good fortune and blessings we enjoy in our lives.
It’s easy to think of a long list. A roof over our head. Food in the fridge. Nature. A gentle breeze. A baby’s laugh. A good book, and so many other small things that are a part of everyday life.
But are we thankful for all that has been given to us… not just the joys, but also the hardships?
Finding The Hidden Joys
The wisdom of the ancients tells us in song: “This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
But what if a particular day is difficult and filled with trials? Are we still called to “rejoice” in a spirit of gratitude? A question worth considering in the arms of caring.
It can be very hard to see the blessings all around us when we feel like we are surrounded by pain and suffering. Sometimes, it is difficult to understand the hidden blessing of a problem or challenge we face. But they are there.
When our hearts are broken, and our spirit is weak, how can we be thankful? Where can we find joy?
In Everything Give Thanks
One of the easiest ways to live a thankful life is to consider that this day is what the universe wants for you. It’s not that the world wants you to hurt or wants you to suffer. Instead, it’s placing before you the opportunity to overcome, to grow stronger, to improve, and to learn.
In spite of the difficulties before us, to live a life of gratitude we must know that even within our hardships there are opportunities to be thankful. Yet, how do we do this on a daily basis, especially when there seems to be so little for which to be thankful?
A Dickens Of A Tough Time
The story goes that no sooner had 47-year old Charles Dickens put his ink and quill down after finishing “A Tale Of Two Cities” in 1859, that it was consumed in a house fire. Over 135,000 words lost. No computers or back-up hard drives. It was gone. He would certainly have permission to be devastated. Incredibly, he was thankful… at least in the long run. He set about re-writing it and began: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Now considered one of the best openings to a novel ever created. He would write in the book’s dedication: “I have so far verified what is done and suffered in these pages, as that I have certainly done and suffered it all myself.”
Smile, Though Your Heart Is Breaking
Buddhist monk Thích Nhất Hạnh said, “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” Often it only takes smiling to change our attitude and to change our outlook on life. Smiling can bring us joy and joy can help us remember that we have so much to be thankful for. Back to the ancients for this wonderful Proverb: “A joyful heart is a good medicine.”
Positive People Are More Thankful People
Those who constantly speak or think negatively are shown to have negative personalities. They often struggle to find the good in life. But here’s the good news. Science shows us that when we habitually think and speak positively, we have the ability to change our brains (rewire them in fact!). That’s a great incentive to stimulate the areas of our brain that produces positive feelings. When faced with a challenge, find at least one or two positive things that are hiding within the negatives. By focusing on the positive instead of the negative you will find more reasons to be thankful. Hopeful people can find reasons to be thankful much easier than those who feel desperate, alone, and out of control.
Giving and Receiving
If we’ve been consistent with our self-care, an amazing opportunity arises. The ability to better put others before ourselves. And when we perform acts of kindness for others it becomes easy to see the good in our own lives. When we help the less fortunate, we suddenly see how abundantly blessed we are. When we do something nice just to make someone smile, we realize how much we have to smile about ourselves. When we give of ourselves just to show how much we care for those around us, we begin to see just how much the universe cares for us as well. Doing for others encourages us to be thankful for what we have, and for those who have played a part in helping us get to where we are today.
Open Your Heart to Gratitude
When we say thank you, we make a conscious effort to acknowledge those who have done something for us. That small thank you not only changes our attitude, but can change theirs as well. The more often we say thank you, the more opportunities we have to make a positive difference in our lives. So starting today, make a habit of saying thank you to those who hold the elevator, who stock the shelves, who deliver your order, who ask how you’re doing, and to those who do countless other little things each day that make your life a little better.
Make Every Day Thanksgiving
We don’t have to wait until November to celebrate “Thanksgiving.” There’s no need to set aside just one day on the calendar to do so. Living a life of gratitude can be easy – simply practice being grateful and choose to be happy. It’s the key to being able to give thanks “in everything,” just as our caring spirit calls each of us to do.
By Mark Smith, contributing author
We are all working our way through a changed world as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. We may no longer be quarantined or under stay-at-home orders, but everyone is stretched to adapt like never before. All of us are in this together. Now more than ever, caring is what we need most. Caring for our self. Caring for others around us in our communities. Life now demands caring, resilience and compassion like never before. This is a great opportunity to create the world we want for our future generations. We invite you to join us in creating a caring movement!