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Home > Audio, Podcast, Show > Thanksgiving


November 27th, 2008

Be thankful for what DID happen this year, not just what DIDN’T

Career Opportunities podcast logoThanksgiving
By Douglas E. Welch

Listen: Thanksgiving


It’s the Thanksgiving holiday here in the US and many families are tucking into huge holiday meals and suffering the ill effects of too much food, too much wine and, in some cases, too much family. Others are less fortunate, though, and Thanksgiving Day becomes a source of sorrow instead of joy. The world is made of such dichotomies and we should all be reminded that even the smallest of our successes are sometimes denied to others. In the end, appreciating those things we are thankful for requires thinking about how thankful others would be to have achieved the same successes. We fail to appreciate our successes exactly because they are ours. Having achieved these successes, they no longer mean anything.

Despite the go-go-go nature of life today, time must be spent looking back over the previous weeks, months and years in order to be truly thankful for what we have received. There are times when looking forward only yields fear and confusion. What will the economy be like in 2009? Will I still have a job next year…or even next month? What crises will we face in the next few months? The fact is we don’t know and not knowing can be one of the most frightening feelings to us. We want the illusion of knowing the way — the right way — to proceed. We want to feel that everything is in order and under control no matter how often life proves us wrong. Instead of looking into an uncertain future, we must turn to the past for comfort.

What better proof of our future success do we have than our past successes? How much more secure can we feel then when we look back and see that we have survived several trials and challenges? How much more hope can be generated than when we bask in the glow of our successes? We can’t be thankful for events that haven’t yet happened. We can only be thankful for the successes we have had and this is exactly where we should turn our gaze this week.

Typically, when people make up their Thanksgiving lists, they are thankful for a lot of things that didn’t happen. Their family is still intact and happy. They still have their job and maybe even a job they like. They are thankful they are still financially solvent and haven’t lost their house to foreclosure. They are thankful that there isn’t more war in the world this year than last, even if there can’t yet be peace.

…I would ask you to be thankful for the things that did happen.

Along with these typical items, this year, I would ask you to be thankful for the things that did happen. Be thankful for the success you achieved, both large and small. Be thankful for the people you met and the work that you did. Be thankful even for the possibilities that each day provided. Be thankful for the children that arrived, the marriages begun, the sunny days and star-filled nights. Be thankful for all that life has to offer, even if it is sometimes tinged in sadness. Be thankful for knowing those people who are no longer with us. Be thankful for their love and wisdom which survives long after their time with us. Be thankful for the lessons you learned, even if you didn’t want to learn them.

So this year, between the football and the parades and the meals and the family, think about what you are thankful for this year. Be careful to celebrate your own personal successes and allow them to show you the way into the New Year. Remember, life is not just something that happens to us, it is also what we make of it. Even if life wasn’t perfect last year (and when is life ever perfect), there were lessons learned and successes gained, no matter how small. No matter what life might throw at you in the coming year, your success this year proves that you can create even greater success in the new year.

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