November 2016

Be Thankful Every Day

Author: Kent Thune

Thanksgiving is a day we set aside for giving thanks. But why not be thankful during the other 364 days of the year? If you stop to think about it long enough, you may come to realize that the special, positive feelings that warm your heart around this time of year come from something more than the traditional turkey, wine, and extra few days away from the daily grind.

Whatever you do, whether it’s traveling back home, spending time with friends and family, or just unwinding in a relaxing environment, there is a powerful, underlying force that provides the kind of perspective that enables your heart of hearts to feel and your mind’s eye to see that your life on this earth really is much better than you had thought just a few days prior, when your life was full of things to do, places to be, and people to please.

This powerful force that often arises during Thanksgiving derives from the reflective and meditative practice of contentment. You see, dear reader, when you give thanks for what you have, you tend to forget about what you don’t have; therefore, you discover the richness of being. Suddenly, you feel less anxiety about the perceived need to be somewhere else or to be somebody else. There is no pretense; there is no rat race; it’s just you being you—pure authenticity at its finest (that is, unless that certain family member or the Black Friday chaos doesn’t disturb your peace, as is the case with most unfortunate souls this time of year).

So think about our new, unconventional idea now: Wouldn’t it be wonderful, if not amazingly productive or even life changing, to consciously remain thankful every single day of your life? Every day can be Thanksgiving! You could maintain that warm, positive glow year-round!

It’s only normal people who give thanks once per year. So now is your chance to be wonderfully abnormal and to buck the trend by choosing to be thankful every single day of your existence.

Now you’re probably thinking: How can I remain thankful every day? Is there a certain kind of trick to doing this? My day-to-day life is no cake walk, and it’s not easy to remain thankful when all kinds of crap is coming my way.

In the spirit of remaining thankful—of forming and maintaining habits of contentment—we have some healthy suggestions for remaining thankful throughout the year:

Give thanks every day. Whether you pray, meditate, think to yourself, or share thoughts with friends or family, recall daily all of the things you are thankful for—things that you already have and/or things that money can’t buy: a roof over your head, clothes, food, life, health, friends, and family. A simple and productive way of doing this is to vocalize or think within your mind three things you are thankful for every night before you go to sleep. This is a simple and routine way to help transition into a deeper sleep and into a greater, more positive perspective on your existence.

Be amazed by things typically taken for granted. Breathing, sight, sound, touch, a good meal, a good friend, a good glass of wine, good music, a good conversation, being loved, having someone to love—how many human beings on the planet don’t have any of these blessings? Most of these aspects of a wonderful life can’t be bought with money. Think about that; be thankful for them all.

Know that things can always be worse. As bad as things appear to you now, they can always be much different, and in a bad way, especially if you find yourself stressed over small things such as a traffic jam or a rude person. For example, the traffic jam may have been caused by a tragic accident; the rude person may have some reason for being rude that has nothing to do with you. Be thankful that you or a loved one was not involved in the accident, or that you have not experienced what the rude person is feeling now. Perspective is everything!

Let go of events outside of your control; the perception of it is within your control. A large part of stress derives from the feeling that things are not within your control. Here is where you need to let go of the natural human desire for control. You cannot control other people, the weather, the stock market, bad politicians, the economy, or any of the common but problematic sources of stress. Worrying about these things only harms you. So stop doing it!

Practice mindfulness. Stress builds quietly in the absence of mindfulness. Being mindful is the combination of all of the previous suggestions, in addition to maintaining an acquired awareness of your own behavioral tendencies. Catch yourself drifting toward discontentedness every day, and bring yourself back by finding just a few things to be thankful for every day. In your day-to-day living, be thankful for even the blandest of experiences. For example, when washing the dishes, don’t curse the fact that you are washing the dishes. Instead, enjoy the fact that you are alive and let yourself become amazed by the simple reality of observing yourself cleaning something that can be used again for a basic function of living.

Be yourself. You are human, and you are a unique personality. You are prone to making mistakes! But these so-called mistakes are labeled so from the world of social conventions. So don’t look at them as mistakes; they are only deviations from what the world expects. In reality, there are no weaknesses or strengths; there are only given sets of skills that are unique to every human being. Be thankful for your given sets of skills and give them purpose in your life and in the lives of others. And remember: the most important aspect of being mindful is to stay connected to the present moment and to resist becoming distracted by the unreal, exterior world.

In summary, know yourself, love yourself, disconnect from the falseness of the outer world, and be thankful every day. Be amazed by even the smallest of things. The greatest of joys are almost always the simplest of pleasures. If you are not content with what you have today, you will not be content with what you have tomorrow; therefore, be thankful today and find a way to be thankful every day. Be rich; be happy; be thankful! 

Kent Thune teaches entrepreneurship and finance at Hilton Head Island High School. He is also an investment advisor and freelance writer. You can follow his musings on mind, money and mastery of life at TheFinancialPhilosopher.com or follow him on Twitter @ThinkersQuill.

Make Thanksgiving Meaningful
Having a meaningful Thanksgiving is no different than maintaining happiness in life. It is crucial to consciously remain focused on the most important things—the little things that make life worth living. To celebrate this, and to turn the idea into reality, sometime during Thanksgiving, such as the moment leading up to dinner, find a time to share several of your favorite inspirational quotes on contentment, thanksgiving, meaning and purpose. To prepare, write or type some of the quotes and cut them out into separate pieces of paper; place them in a hat or a container that means something to you. Have each of your dinner guests draw one quote and read it aloud. You might also ask each person to share a moment in life when they were most thankful. You and your guests will be moved to inspiration and to happy tears of thankful joy!

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