It’s early Thanksgiving morning, and I’m the only one up so far. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the blessings in my life this week. Further, I‘ve examine how bad my attitude has been. While I may have gone through some difficult episodes recently that explain my view, a bad attitude is something that cannot be permitted to continue regardless of the excuse. Perhaps that’s why Thanksgiving comes around – so that at least once each year we have the opportunity to stop, be grateful and reset our mindsets.
Without getting political, because that is far from the point, but I read an article about those living below the poverty line here in America now live more comfortably than most European royalty of four hundred years ago. In fact this article stated that the “non-homeless poor” owned more household amenities than the middle-class did two decades ago. Yet, we have people ignoring their blessings and occupying Some Street in protest of the economic travesty. So many Americans, like me, have lost focus of how amazingly blessed they really are.
But it’s not just about materialism. Yes, I am blessed with more wonderful items than I can say grace over. And yes, I take that for granted. That is something I plan to change and be more cognizant of.
However, the true blessings and true riches I have are the people in my life. I’ve heard some cliché sounding similar to that statement so many times, and nonchalantly nodded in agreement. But recently, I’ve become increasingly appreciative of the connections, the conversations, the experiences and the rapport I have with other people, and how often I miss great opportunities and blessings because I am focused so intently on the wrong thing. Either I’m grumbling over a problem or I’m waiting on the “next thing” to happen, and I miss some gems surrounding me.
I’ve come to realize that men tend to be “fixers.” One step further, I am an analyst and solution developer in my career. I have been trained to find problems, to envision beyond the scope and anticipate problems that don’t even exist yet. Then I determine their risk and take pre-emptive actions to mitigate those risks. In business this makes great sense. However, as that permeates into my life-living philosophy, it creates great tragedy.
I focus too much on the negative and ignore or forget to appreciate all the success that goes on routinely. In my friendships and romantic relationships, I ferret out “the problems” that need to be mitigated, often before they even exist. These issues linger in my brain because people cannot be quickly re-coded like software; thus, those “problems” (real or not) are always a risk with that person, a subconscious label I place.
Wow! How sick is that? Yet, I imagine many more people think like that than just me. I spoke with a stunningly beautiful woman yesterday who complained of the onset of some wrinkles around her eyes. I begged her not to focus on the less than one-percent she felt was bad when all else was phenomenally gorgeous. There are many other examples. I’m sure we each have our personal anecdotes to support how we notice the dirty house, but ignore the clean one.
So, this is my new character project: to make every day Thanksgiving. I am resetting my focus away from the problems, at least the ones that don’t yet exist, and appreciate what is good and pure and beautiful in my life – because there really is so much more of that to notice in my charmed life. Every morning I will remind myself to look for these things and to catch myself when inappropriately focusing on the negative.
Also, with each encounter, every conversation or experience I have with those close to me, I will make a mental note to ask myself, “If this were the last time I saw this person alive, would I be content with how I interacted with him or her? Would I be proud of the attentiveness I gave this moment?” It is important for me to start cherishing moments, in the moment, rather than wait until it’s too late and wishing I had that time back again. Regret is not the intangible I want surrounding me. I want to be a man who carries his treasured memories…so much so that I glow from them.
So, this Thanksgiving, I will take the moments to remind those in my life just how special they are to me. I will be truly Thankful for them. I hope everyone who reads this will reserve a few moments to do the same. God bless you and have a fantastic Thanksgiving Day (and life).