By Ron Ross
Feasting, football games, and of course, Black Friday sales often bury the true meaning of Thanksgiving. I must confess that at our house during the Thanksgiving weekend we do feast, I watch a little football, and my wife does some shopping. But through it all we do take time to give thanks and you should too!
Here are four good reasons you should give thanks, not only on Thanksgiving Day, but every day of the year.
Reason #1: Thanksgiving causes you to regain an enthusiasm for life. If you’re like me, it’s easy to get grumpy and complain about the way things are and how people treat you. If you see the neighbor pull in his driveway with a new car and you still chug along in your old one you feel resentful. If someone at work gets promoted and you don’t, jealousy swells up within. “So what’s there to be thankful for?” you ask. “Nothing is going MY way.”
Here’s the problem: when you constantly think you live with less than others and that nothing ever works right for you, you blind your eyes to all the blessings you really do have. Here is a suggestion that will bring you out of your gloom and return some enthusiasm to your life: Give thanks for the small things in life. “But what do I have to be thankful for?” you ask. Here are three little things you can be grateful for that will make a big difference.
Be thankful you have a pillow to sleep on. I wonder how many people in the world go to bed every night and don’t have a pillow to sleep on – but you do! So be thankful.
Give thanks for clean water. We take tap water for granted here in the USA, but that’s not the case in many places around the world. Several years ago my son and I went to Zambia in central Africa and went deep into the bush and stayed with some Ba-Tonga people for about a week. Every morning the women of the village trekked 2 miles to the Zambesi River to get water. That’s right. They had no well in the village so they had to go to the river every morning, a four-mile round trip. And all you do is choose hot or cold and then turn on the tap. So the next time you get a drink or wash your hands or brush your teeth, take a moment and thank God for clean water.
One more little thing you can give thanks for this Thanksgiving Day is an abundant supply of food. And that includes people who are on food stamps or even homeless for even they have an abundant supply of food compared to most people in the world. In fact, the problem in America is not hunger but obesity, right?
Now, it’s your turn to think of something small that you take for granted and you start giving thanks for it. Do that and you’ll see your enthusiasm for life increase and your gloomy spirit change to a sunshiny soul!
Reason #2. It is good manners to give thanks. If someone does you a favor, helps you out or even opens a door for you, it is good manners to acknowledge their thoughtfulness with a sincere thank you. Our response shows them we have noticed their kindness and we respect and appreciate them.
Have you ever held the door open for someone and they walked right through looking straight ahead as if you didn’t exist? I have. Usually I will say rather loudly, “You’re welcome!” From now on thank everyone for the services they render you no matter how small.
Reason #3. You are a role model for others. Someone once said, “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”* People are watching you. Show others how to give thanks.
Reason #4. Give thanks and you will see even more blessings come your way. We tend to attract the things in life we focus on. When you are narrow focused and negative in your thinking, you have trouble seeing any of the great blessings that surround you. When you are consciously aware of your blessings, and express gratitude for them, your focus changes from a sense of poverty to a sense of abundance. Start giving thanks and you will attract more and more things to be thankful for.
So here’s your homework for this Thanksgiving weekend: tell someone thanks. Think of someone who has been kind to you, or who has been helpful to you, or who simply does their job day-by-day and you’ve come to take them for granted and tell them “thanks.” Lots of folks out there do their jobs every day and no one notices, no one appreciates what they do. Find someone you’ve been taking for granted and touch their shoulder and say, “Thanks for what you do!”
I saw this happen in person while standing in line at a big event. In line with me were several sailors when a lady passes by. None of us noticed her until she turned around and came back. She looked at the sailors, offered a handshake, and said to them, “Gentlemen, I see you are sailors. I want to thank you for your service to our country.” She smiled and walked on. The sailors were a bit embarrassed, but they all appreciated being appreciated.
Find someone to thank this Thanksgiving and most important, take time to thank God for all the blessings he has graciously bestowed up on you.
*Samuel Baldwin, novelist/essayist/poet
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