Giving Thanks – Counterintuitive Edition

Last year, on Thanksgiving Day, I wrote about the relative ease of giving thanks and how most people routinely express their gratitude for something each year on Thanksgiving Day. As a result, my focus was on the importance of being thankful, and expressing your gratitude on the other 364 days of the year. That blog can be found here, if you have any interest.

This year I want to focus on something a bit different, the things that you choose to be thankful for. Many of the things I put forward here may seem counterintuitive to you, but I am hopeful that you will at least hear me out before dismissing my suggestions (and I thank you for that).

I do believe it is important to be thankful for all of the most common things people tend to be thankful for, such as having good health, friends, family, pets, a job, a roof over their head, money in the bank, etc. But I believe these all pretty much go without saying. I have found that if you want to come closer to contentment it is important to dig much deeper.

I am thankful for all of the above, but I am also thankful that I did not grow up in a wealthy family. That I was picked on and bullied when I was growing up. That I experienced being cut from a team. That I was dumped and experienced heartbreaks. That my father never said he loved me and never gave me a hug. I could go on, and I will share my almost unthinkable one of all to be thankful for in a minute.

Some of you may be wondering how I can be thankful for one or all of the things I listed at the end of that paragraph. The short answer is that they all made me have to work harder to get what I needed and gave me many perspectives I would not otherwise have today. Of course, I despised all of them as they were happening, because the brain naturally overvalues the present. But, without having gone through all of those experiences, I would be an entirely different person.

The nearly unthinkable one I mentioned is especially challenging for me to write and not feel guilty for even thinking… that my mother died when I was just three years old. Needless to say, it took me decades to get to the point where I could view my mom’s passing that way. I spent a larger portion of my life than I care to admit feeling sorry for myself, as it was likely the precursor to many of the challenges that I faced.

Unfortunately, that never got me anywhere, and in fact, made me feel worse. It was when I took an inventory of myself that I first realized that if she had lived, I would likely be an unrecognizable version of the person I am today, and I like the person I have grown into.

I believe it was Dale Carnegie that first said “Success is getting what you want; happiness is wanting what you get.” It took me a long time to embody that wisdom of wanting what you get, but the reality is there is no way to change the past. Too many people dwell on what has already happened and feel sorry for themselves or cheated just like I did.

I have found that since the past cannot be changed, you are best served by wanting what you get, and learning to make the best of it. This way you are free to put your energy into what is within your control, what you do each day to build a future filled with contentment.

Make it a Happy Thanksgiving!


You can follow Sam on Twitter @SuperTaoInc




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