There is some dispute as to the true history of Thanksgiving, but what cannot be disputed is that the celebration of Thanksgiving was conceived out of difficult times. We have all heard the history of the suffering and starvation of the earliest European settler’s and the decimation of Native American tribes. By the time Thanksgiving was confirmed by Abraham Lincoln as a national holiday in 1863, it was the middle of the Civil War. Certainly, these were not bright times in the history of our ancestors. Why on Earth would they name a Holiday “Thanksgiving” when the times around said “Holiday” did not call for such a positive label. Maybe they were on to something that can go unnoticed in these modern and fast paced times. Perhaps, stressful events and trials in our lives prompt us to look at what is truly important in life and compel us to be overwhelmingly thankful for those things. Maybe suffering can actually force us not to take the blessings in life for granted.
Thankfulness is definitely a choice. We choose to feel gratitude for that beautiful sunrise, or that morning hug from a loved one, or even that stress-free commute. We choose to see the beauty in another human being while forgiving the attributes that may not be quite as pleasing. If we are good at choosing optimism and gratitude over negativity and complaint, we can even make it through the most difficult of times with a heart full of thankfulness. It just takes a little practice. Gratitude and hope are what help us to cope amidst tragedy; and a grateful mindset helps us to look for positive outcomes even in the most negative circumstances.
Melody Beattie wrote that “Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” Unfortunately, our society has been hard-wired with an “I’ll never have enough” mindset. Many of us start the day with feelings of inadequacy and lacking. Immediately placing attention on what we don’t have, instead of absorbing all that is good in our surroundings. Gratitude turns what we have into enough. Let’s make a daily goal to practice gratitude instead of waiting just one day out of the year to appreciate what we have today. Let us not wait for Thanksgiving to express what we are grateful for.