As I write this, the day “Thanksgiving” has already passed, but that was deliberate on my part. Our holidays can act as a “brake” to our hectic lives, but if we are not careful, we can get pulled into the frenzy that all the busyness of the season can push on us.
Thanksgiving is not merely a day or an event but a state of being; we should wake up every day in the state of “giving thanks” because we have woken up to a new day in this life including all of its challenges and all of its fullness and wonder.
The state of “thanksgiving” that we are talking about helps to provide balance in our lives. I’m thankful for my family. I’m thankful for my job. I’m thankful for friends. I’m thankful for health and vigor. I’m thankful for the possessions that I’ve accumulated and enjoy. Anyone of these things can become corrupted if we pursue them inordinately.
One way I find to encourage an attitude of thanksgiving is in considering death. It is common for those on their deathbeds to start thinking about all those things that they wish they had done differently. If I keep this in my mind that should help me make better decisions in the present.
The number one regret people on their deathbed have is that they wish they had spent more time with loved ones. But, there are frequently other regrets as well. The question we should ask ourselves is this, “How can I structure my day today, to bring about the results I desire tomorrow?” Or, “What hard decision can I make now, that will positively affect my life in the future?” It may be making better decisions, re-structuring your day to spend more time with family, changing jobs, repairing a broken relationship, etc.
Furthermore, what do I already have now that I should be thankful for and enjoy more? I have a family that I can invest myself in. I can make the decision to not work overtime all the time and turn off the laptop at five and read to my kids, play with them, let them help me on some household project. At the end of the day what I will remember at the end of my life, and what they will remember through the course of theirs, is the relationship we had, the time we spent together… and that is just one example.
Do the work. Do good work. But, don’t forget to be thankful for all those things in life that we sometimes see as obstacles to the “end” and are actually the end in themselves. Be thankful!