Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Thanksgiving Meal–Pass the Gratitude Please

As a Canadian who has spent most of his career in the US, I get the double blessing of enjoying the Thanksgiving holiday twice a year.

As I was preparing the meal today, I reflected on Thanksgiving meals of my youth.

While my years in NYC and elsewhere have been ones of personal and professional abundance, I have never forgotten the early years of my life that were spent in this house in a small town in Newfoundland.

[First house[2].jpg]

We never had much in those days and yet, I remember my family being ferociously grateful for everything.  We never judged anything we were blessed to have.

We savored everything.

I don’t see that same level of gratitude in a lot of people today.  I see people pulling up to their local coffee shop in $60,000+ vehicles (having just left their $1 million+ mansions), walking into the coffee in their designer clothing and buying $5 lattes, only to sit down with their friends and complain about how difficult their life is.

They often try to out-complain each other, reminding me of the Monty Python sketch of the 4 Yorkshiremen.


The 4 Yorkshiremen


Their belly is full and they are not cold.  They never evaded bullets or landmines to get to the coffee shop.  They enjoy the freedom to meet with their friends without fear of being arrested.  They will probably throw out more food and clothing in the course of a year than many people in the world could imagine having access to.

Many would kill to have access to what we discard.

Many suffer or die because they don’t have that access.

And despite all that abundance, too many of us prefer to focus on what we don’t have.

I wonder if many of the difficulties in the western world stem from the fact that we are constantly focusing on what we don’t have or that we always zero in on what the “other person” has, leaving us in a perpetual state of a lack of “whatever”.

How can we ever feel grateful if we eternally live in a state of “the universe hasn’t given me what I desire or deserve yet”?

You Create What You Focus On

Many wise people over the years have told us that we create that which we focus on.

Maybe if we focused a little more on being grateful for the staggering amount of abundance that we are blessed with, we would find ourselves being more passionate about sharing it with those who have lost the will or ability to visualize or partake in such abundance.

And as we sit down to the Thanksgiving meal (or any meal), let’s not limit our gratitude to just the meal before us or the people around us at the moment.

In a world filled with challenge, being grateful for all that we have provides us with the fuel to move forward and a desire to preserve and protect that which we are grateful for instead of ignoring it in favor of something else that always seems just out of our reach.

Being grateful also creates within us the need to share more of what we are grateful for with others.

Otherwise we will manifest what we are focusing on.

And then we will have something to complain about, but it won’t matter anymore.  It will be too late and we will have created the very Life that we so vehemently complained about for years.

As many of us in the western world sit at the table of endless bounty every day, let’s remember to ask for a double helping of gratitude and with our appetite satiated, let’s work harder to bring others to the same table.

And be grateful for the opportunity to do so.

G.K. Chesterton once said:

When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.

The choice you make impacts the quality of your Life and the lives of those around you.

John F. Kennedy said:

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.

How are you living?

How do you know?

In service and servanthood,


PS Every generation talks about “the new math” that is being taught in schools and how difficult it is to learn.  Eric Hoffer, though, may have said it best when he said:

The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.

Count them.

Be grateful for them.

Share them.

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