I am sure you are amazed that I would have the extraordinary idea to write a blog about thankfulness the week of Thanksgiving! I know, I know; I am pretty creative.
Recently I was thinking about why some people are extremely thankful in life and why others rarely show thanks. In pondering this reality, I began to understand that the answer is not found in the size or frequency of gifts, nor is it found in the number positive circumstances in a person’s life. I believe that to understand the root of thankfulness it is best to look at it from the other side. There is a quote by the philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard that my Executive Assistant shared with me recently that says, “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forward.”
When we look at thankfulness backwards we can find the secret to becoming more thankful in all we do and have. So what is the other side of being thankful? The precursor to thankfulness is generous giving. Our thankfulness is often the result of another person’s generosity. Because of this I often find the most thankful individuals are also the most generous.
When you make the decision to give of your time, money, knowledge or resources it allows you to understand the sacrifice that is made on the part of the giver. The beauty of this is that although giving requires a sacrifice, it also opens a door to the kind of joy that is only experienced by those that give. Generosity requires us to put others above ourselves and that shift of focus fosters a perspective that breeds thankfulness. When you have sacrificed in a particular area, you become sensitive to others experiencing the same. For example, when I see football teams in summer camp doing two-a-day practices, I understand and appreciate what it takes to push through. Whether it’s the physical, mental and emotional triumph it takes to be in the military, or the many years of schooling and testing to become a doctor or lawyer, those who have common threads of sacrifice understand and appreciate those particular sacrifices made by others. It is for this reason that generous people often show more gratitude than those who live a self-absorbed life.
I continually strive to be generous in my life and I find great enjoyment in the act of giving. I am learning that no matter the response of the receiver, I need to pursue generosity because I know that giving is a key to life and it keeps my perspective of money in line with my Christian beliefs. When your life becomes consumed with how much money you can make and keep, the love of money will overtake you. A mentor once taught me the following lesson in order to keep the proper balance of money in my life:
Any time making money becomes more fun and important than giving you should immediately give! The act of giving will break the stronghold of greed and give you the necessary perspective on life.
Unfortunately, our society has helped to create a culture of entitlement and a give me mentality. Entitled individuals are rarely thankful and often complain about the very things they are given. I believe this is because they are living a life of receiving and to truly understand the act of thankfulness you have to give.
I challenge you to look backwards this week to understand where many of your blessings have come from. In order to truly be thankful this Thanksgiving, find some ways to sacrifice and give of yourself and your resources. Commit to be more giving in life and to show more gratitude for what you have and for the things others do for you. Living a life of giving will not only increase your gratitude towards others, it will certainly enhance your life to a level of fulfillment that money cannot buy!