Directing your Gratitude
It’s Thanksgiving again, and if you’re like me you’ve gotten into the habit of counting your blessings around this time of year. As you think of all you’re thankful for--maybe a good home, a fun school, the newest Twilight movie-- your heart becomes full, and you chow down until you have a belly to match. What occurred to me recently is that often we think of what we’re thankful for, and much less often who.
So this Thanksgiving, I want you to think about those people who lit your path, built your character, and had faith in you when you didn’t have faith in yourself. Instead of (or in addition to) thanking God, fate, or some nameless faceless universe for your good fortune, make an effort this year to thank the actual people in your life that have made a difference. I’ll offer up some suggestions (with a side of cheese, I admit) of who I’m thankful for that may resonate with you too. If this person exists for you, thank them this season, or at least think of them and direct your inner gratitude their way.
That Professor: Many of us had that one class that really clicked with us in high school or early college that made you say “I want that to be my major!” For me that class was AP Government and Politics in my junior year of high school. The class was great, but the professor was the reason that class led me to come to CMC and major in Government. He was highly energetic, so passionate, and endlessly knowledgeable about the subject. My experience is hardly unique, and it’s likely you’ve had equally influential professors.
That Connection: Maybe it’s a friend you’ve had since you were ten, maybe it was your freshman year roommate, maybe you don’t even remember how you met. More than likely you have found people over the years that just get you. People you can go without talking to for months or even years, and upon reunion it’s as if you’ve never been apart. You talk for hours about nothing and everything, and never truly say goodbye. Those are the connections that make life worth living, and they deserve your thanks.
That Employer: Have you ever had a boss who became a role model? In CMC lingo, perhaps one termed a “transformational leader” (Leadership Sequence shout-out!)? This person may have given you responsibility you didn’t know you were ready for, set a high bar and challenged you to meet it. And you did. Sometimes you don’t know what you're are capable of, and at those times it’s important to have those who believe in your greatest potential.
That Weirdo: Maybe that sounds harsh, but I promise I mean "weirdo" in the most endearing sense of the word. Has anyone ever made you open your eyes to a world you didn’t know existed? Made you consider reality in a new light? And they did this by no means other than being themselves. Whether you think their view is ridiculous, has merit, or is just plain and simply different, it’s good to occasionally question the reality you live in, and ask how and why you do the most basic of actions. Sometimes it takes talking to someone who sees things differently to invoke this line of questioning.
That Opportunity: Is there any opportunity you took advantage of where think back and say “WOW! I am so glad I did that!” Not just any opportunity, but one that really helped you make great connections with people, or led to a deeper understanding of yourself, interests, and skills. It could have been a program you participated in, an adventure you embarked on, or an internship you accepted. There must be someone that made that opportunity available to you, and others who made the opportunity memorable and life changing.
That Tragedy: This could be in the form of a person, an event, or a rejection from a company. Whatever the cause, remember a time you were devastated. Now, reflect on how you grew from the event: How did you react? And how did it shape your future reactions and decisions? Hard times build character. You may be at a place where you’re thankful for the event or to the person, but maybe you can get to a point where all bitterness has left and you can recognize how the tragedy has allowed you to grow and made you who a better person.
That Loyalty: Anyone you know who would be on your side until the end of the earth. You could have committed the most heinous of crimes known to man, and this person would still assume you had valid reasons for doing so, and would stand valiantly by your side. It’s these people who both get you through the bad times and are still laughing with you in the good.
That Family: Of course a gratitude list wouldn’t be complete without at least some reference to those that have raised and loved you your entire life. Thank your family for allowing you to follow your dreams, teaching you to be an upstanding citizen, giving you the freedom to both succeed and fail, loving you unconditionally, calling you on your crap, and being a continuous channel of care and support.
This Thanksgiving I know exactly what--- and who--- I’m giving thanks for. Do you?
Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to feast with some wonderful friends and family. Cheers Forum readers! Happy Holidays to you all!