Being thankful is like working out. It doesn’t just happen. You need to will it, to work at it; to get up each morning and say the words, “Thank you,” even though sometimes it’s just lip service.
I’m one of those people who begins listening to Christmas music in October when the first chill is in the air. I’m a multi-tasker though, and manage to embrace both Thanksgiving and Christmas as twin delights, without sacrificing one or the other. There are other people – you may be one of them – who run headlong into the new year without looking back. The holidays are a blur and a stressor.
I have the answer: Give Thanks.
I’m here to help with that. Here’s your 2018 list of reasons to be thankful…
Thankful for Air
Breathing is underrated.
I know that sounds silly. After all we don’t really have a choice, do we? We breathe or we die. The truth is we take breath for granted. We are a few short breaths away from extinction. The average person takes over 23,000 breaths each day! But those breaths can come fast and furious, accompanied by heart palpitations and sweating. All too often we hold our breath, waiting for something to happen or fearing the worst.
Right now, just breathe, in and out, in and out, and be thankful for air.
Thankful for Family
Want to go crazy? Answer this riddle: “If Theresa’s daughter is my daughter’s mother, what am I to Theresa?” – For the sake of your sanity, here is the answer.
Families can be complicated. The black-and-white days of Ozzie and Harriet and Father Knows Best are long gone. A fractured culture had led to fractured families, but all of the pieces are still there even if they’re not connected.
In To Kill a Mockingbird, Jem repeats his dad’s dictum, “You can choose your friends but you sho’ can’t choose your family, an’ they’re still kin to you no matter whether you acknowledge ’em or not, and it makes you look right silly when you don’t.”
Don’t be silly! Be thankful for your kin and say so to their faces.
Thankful for Friends
Where family fail, there are always friends. You can choose them and nurture them. They can become your firewall, protecting you from life’s adversities.
One of the most popular sitcoms in television history was to be named, “Six of One.” Wisely, they changed it to, “Friends.” It is the story of six millennials coming of age together, but mostly it’s about friendship. The finale in 2004 became the most watched television episode of the decade.
I’ve done the math for you. It will take you only three and a half days to binge-watch all ten seasons. It will make you thankful for the friends in your life.
Get to it!
Thankful for Freedom
Freedom is like that air we breathe. It’s everywhere around us, allowing us to enjoy life and achieve our goals. It may help to remind yourself of the throngs of oppressed peoples who press upon our borders seeking the freedom we often take for granted.
For the founding fathers who conceived the idea of a free nation
For those who defend your freedom with their very lives
For the freedom to follow your wildest dreams
For the freedom to think differently
For the air that you breathe
Thankful for Struggles
Hard times come to all of us. It’s trite to observe, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” (attributed to Nietzsche) but giving thanks for the struggles themselves can relieve some of the burden, especially if you believe as I do that God sends and allows struggles in our lives to grow our faith and lead us to depend upon him.
When you can’t fix things, give thanks for them,, and believe you will be stronger.
Thankful for Work
When you are overworked and underpaid, remember a time when you were out of work and struggled to pay the bills.
When the boss fails to appreciate the wonderful work you’ve done
When the guy or girl in the next cubicle gets a raise, not you
When someone else gets the credit for what you did
When your work at home is taken for granted
When the boss clearly has favorites…
When you’re not one of them
When you’d rather sleep
Be thankful for the work that you have.
Thankful for Play
My wife is an elementary school principle and works hard to maintain the balance of work and play. Grownups struggle with the same balance. If you’re one of them read this.
Thankful for Health
This is a moving target. I cannot do today what I could do just ten years ago, but I can do today what I may not be able to do ten years from now. That’s a whole different way of thinking about life!
If you celebrate what you can do you won’t become one of those people who fills every conversation with your meds, doctor’s appointments, aches and pains. Don’t be that guy/girl.
Thankful for Government
These days when Congress has a 18% approval rating, just slightly above that of car salesmen, this may be a stretch for you. But consider all of the things we take for granted – roads, bridges, law enforcement, public works, local and national security – these are the result of government officials who are doing their jobs on our behalf.
Imagine if they all disappeared (that’s called anarchy). I could make do with less government, but I’m thankful for honesty and integrity where it exists.
Thankful for God
For those of us who believe that all of the above come from a wise and loving creator, this will be easy. For those of you who doubt the existence of God or even adamantly deny that he exists, I invite you to think again.
And be thankful.