Today is Thanksgiving holiday in the USA. There are numerous blogs and articles
on the true meaning of Thanksgiving that unravel the historical myths versus
truths of this holiday. Whether
you are American or not, I suggest you read these yourself to understand why an
entire nation of over 300 million people stop and give thanks. Whilst there are iconic aspects to the
day and a holiday perhaps built more on myth than truth, the underlying meaning
of the day can be held high for all to acknowledge. So it is in this spirit that I celebrate the idea of Giving
Giving thanks starts with a thought
When we stop to give thanks we first must consider for
what we are thankful. Doing
such an exercise can have two outcomes. Firstly you can shift your
mood into one of joy and happiness. Secondly you change your outlook on what your immediate
world is like for you in the present moment, ie see the glass half full for a change. Both outcomes have credible benefits to your mental,
emotional, physical and spiritual health.
We can be more consciously positive, more stable and calmer emotionally,
less stressed physically and ultimately more at peace with our life and the
people in it.
Giving my thanks
I choose to share with you a snapshot of what I am
thankful for in my life. I share
this at a generic level in the hope that it may stimulate your own
thinking. Below is a
wordle. If you have not yet had
the pleasure of creating a wordle then I recommend it. Please visit the website www.wordle.net to play and create your own. Here is my
wordle for today.
Being in gratitude versus giving thanks
Going beyond the concept of giving thanks you may wish to
consider the process at another level.
There are really two states you can be in. One is being in gratitude and the other is giving
thanks. The two states are
contra to each other yet entirely linked.
Much like the duality of the I-Ching symbol I consider there to be a
receiving and a giving aspect to being thankful. One aspect allows us to appreciate what we have in our life, to
receive the gift of what we have rather than worry about what we don’t
have. The other implores us to
take action and make the effort to thank others. In other words to give our thanks to others for their presence and actions.
How we give thanks
For me there are as many ways to thank people as there are
ideas in our heads. Gestures can
be as simple as a smile, catching the person's eye and nodding in approval, a handshake. Or gestures can be big such as a wildly extravagant present or a public
acknowledgment in the presence of others to witness the gesture.
Either way what is important is not the size of the giving
but the regular act of giving and receiving thanks. Sometimes we give, eg provide a service, to get, eg earn a living. Other times we give to acknowledge something that
we receive. It is also our
perception that colours the experience.
For example to some the gesture of giving a tip may be nothing to them.
They simply do this as a matter of practice, social protocol. To another this gesture may carry
behind it the energy of true appreciation for a service well provided. So when giving thanks don’t just make
it an exercise of habit. Instead fill the moment with meaning no matter what
Everyday giving of thanks
It is all to common to hear stories of people being
praised for their analytical skills, ability to find faults, see the problems,
pick up errors, correct our mistakes. Such effort requires attention to detail
and an ability to quickly take in information and notice what is working and
However we also can praise people for giving thanks. What if we were to encourage people to
really say thanks with meaning.
So the next time you review the report of a colleague in
your team maybe stop for a moment and thank the person for their effort,
thought and time spent preparing the document. Do this BEFORE you decide to give all the feedback on how to
make it better. Or perhaps the next time you go to tell someone in your family what you want them to do for you instead thank them for all that they have done already today.
Maybe you could stop for a moment and reflect on the
benefits of services you receive in your life, eg taxi drivers, bus drivers,
bank tellers, hair dressers, waiter, flight attendant, personal assistant. Consider how you can take a moment in
every action to sincerely thank them for their service and effort. Try not to save it up for the one day a
year when you send a card or when you are supposed to say it.
Ultimately why it is so important to give thanks RIGHT NOW
Unless you are under a rock (which I confess to be
sometimes on purpose) you will be aware, perhaps bombarded, by the constant
flow of media, news and information about how bad the world is right now. If you choose to live near a city or in the suburbs, have access to television or the Internet, there is no where you can go without
hearing someone talk about the economy, climate change problems, global
conflict, disasters etc. In fact to me it seems that most news stories focus on
the negative rather than the positive.
In light of this bombardment of reality and negativity we
need to find ways to buffer our energy, our personal selves. One way to do this is to create states
of positivity in your self. When
all seems to be taken away, reduced, less than it was before what a great time
to consider the opposite. Tally up
for a change all that you have in your life. In particular practice adding up
what you can be thankful for in your life. The more you focus on this the better you will feel.
And if you then take the action and practice giving thanks
when you are grateful then you can spread this happiness to others. What a
amazing way to counteract the challenges we face in this world. This certainly is not the cure-all, however it is a nice antidote.
So thank you for reading this blog, for choosing to visit this space and for simply being engaged in the world enough to be curious about what others have to say.
Let's go there...