Perhaps, like me, you’re getting your In-box filling with Thanksgiving wishes and lists of things to be thankful for.
That’s great! To be reminded at least once a year about all the good things we have in our world, in our relationships, in our communities, in our jobs, and even in the opportunity to feast on turkey dinner.
Besides all the standard stuff—free country, a roof over our heads, a loving family, etc.–each of us has unique items to put on that list, things that stand out from the ordinary. I could make a pretty decent list myself. Like the opportunity to control my own work schedule. Like the opportunity to continuously learn and grow. Like the opportunity to influence people on this blog list. And, even as I write this, I’m reminded again of those special opportunities.
But, I thought, rather than simply repeating the litany of objects for thankfulness, it might serve a better purpose to reflect on why even be thankful. (Did I mention the opportunity to influence people? Writing is cathartic for me and, because of the skills I have in reflection and writing—something else I should be thankful for–somewhat of a duty, I think.)
So why be thankful? Is it our duty to be thankful, an obligation we have? Some would say Yes to that, especially those who attribute all we have as gifts bestowed on us by the supreme being. With that understanding, thankfulness can surely be framed as a duty. A happy duty.
Others might suggest that thankfulness is simply an acknowledgement of good fortune, however that came our way. Which would imply that those in less fortunate circumstances—the fleeing Syrian refugees, for example—would have less, perhaps no reason at all, to be thankful. Unless, of course, they compared themselves to the even less fortunate, like those who never got to flee.
But here’s another big reason for thankfulness, it seems to me. The act of thankfulness changes us. The simple acknowledgement of gratitude lifts our spirits, changes our dispositions, renews our hope, spurs us on in our endeavors.
The act of thankfulness makes us better people. It gives us positive self-esteem and helps build better relations with those around us. And that reinforces an upward spiral of accomplishment and satisfaction.
At least, that’s how I see it…
Quote of the Week:
Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts.
– Henri Frederic Amiel