Some Thoughts on Thankfulness

A couple of recent anecdotes...

First, a colleague recently told me about an exchange he had early in his career. His boss, who was a West Point Graduate and served in Viet Nam, had a way of putting things into perspective. After a particularly tough negotiation with an unreasonable and sometimes unprofessional vendor, he complained to his boss how difficult the process was. His boss pointed out that no one was trying to kill him, no one was shooting at him or his colleagues, and at the end of the day he got to go to his family and home.

Second, a young man I know that had what could be called, a less than ideal personal history, recently got engaged to a young lady he had been with for a few years. Her father, a conservative and loving father, who like all fathers, only wanted the best for his daughter, told me about the exchange when the young man asked for permission to marry his daughter. The young man acknowledged his past issues, but stated that among the reasons he wanted to marry his daughter, was that she makes him want to be a better man.

So, what do these two conversations have in common?

I think every experience we have with others gives us an opportunity to grow. The more challenging they are, the more we can grow from the experiences that shape us. Just as every parent should be dedicated to challenging their children to be better people, so too do the children challenge the parents to be better parents.

Furthermore, we need to be thankful for the lives we get to live in this country. We are blessed with bounty compared to many others in this world. And we are blessed with all those around us who make up our everyday experience. Some are easy to get along with. Others, as they say, “not so much.” If we first seek to understand others, and then seek to understand ourselves, we will grow every day.

Finally, a note on thankfulness – Being sincerely thankful carries with it a burden; a debt to pay it back, or pay it forward. In doing so, our blessings multiply; as do the blessings we offer each other through our daily interaction. My thanks to all of you for your gifts of talent, time, sacrifice and forgiveness. I hope I can continue to earn your help in challenging me to be better.

The best cure for a case of melancholy is to go out and help someone less fortunate than yourself.

Attributed to Carl Jung

Thanksgiving is a typically American holiday...The lavish meal is a symbol of the fact that abundant consumption is the result and reward of production.

Ayn Rand

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