Thankful for Thankfulness

pb280491As we enter the season of good cheer and giving, let us focus some time on family, friends, and each other. Thanksgiving serves as a good starting point to reflect on life’s abundant blessings.

What are you thankful for?

Like many of you, being thankful for family, friends, food and shelter is good enough. Lately, however, I have been reflecting on that question quite a bit more deeply. I have every reason to be; several times this year, life seemed to throw one gloomy moment after another. In a three-month span of time, I endured brokenness, grief, uncertainty, and unspeakable loss. There were many moments of grace too, but the difficult ones were hard to ignore.

As with all challenges in life, I could have chosen to be bitter. I could have resorted to the “Why me” mentality. When life throws one sucker punch after another, what is there left to be thankful for? A lot, actually.

As the saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining. I believe in seeing the good out of every tough situation. For instance:

1. Recently, when an old laptop got stolen, devastation turned into relief when I recalled a data backup that was completed just days before. It was a pain to work without my laptop, but in the words of one of my team members: “to appreciate our safety, and to focus on the gratefulness of the outcome rather than the loss of (the) laptop is the most important thing in this situation.” Material things can always be replaced, not people.

2. Spending quality time with a cousin was a special blessing, despite the sadness of losing him suddenly a few weeks later. Having just endured another traumatic experience, his death was a double whammy and a terrible loss but it also brought our families together, many of whom I had not seen in a decade or even met.

3. Another family member suffered a concussion after a terrible accident, but he miraculously recovered well enough to see our plane take off for an overseas pilgrimage with the pope less than 48 hours after the incident. To follow an ambulance to the hospital in the middle of the night is one experience I will never forget. To witness agonizing pain from someone who is normally healthy, to listen and respond with compassion when he repeated questions due to memory lapses, to feel helpless in response to his hunger cries was very heartbreaking. His miraculous recovery? There is power in prayer.

“Whatever happens in your life, no matter how troubling things might seem, do not enter the neighborhood of despair. Even when all doors remain closed, God will open up a new path only for you. Be thankful!” ~ Elif Shafak

This Thanksgiving, I choose better over bitter. I am thankful for thankfulness, because I realize life is a journey filled with peaks and valleys, highs and lows. It is so easy to focus on our own troubles, on the things we do not have, and wish for a better situation. When I struggle to find gratefulness in my heart, I recall an email a dear friend sent me: “It seems like it has been a tough year, but you always seem to find the positivity to rebound right back. Your hopeful energy is always an inspiration to me.” There is power in words.

What am I thankful for this year? In addition to my deep appreciation for my family and extended family, I am thankful for my circle of friends, my team of colleagues, and my clients. People make my world a happier and purpose-filled place. I am thankful for the gift of good health, a safe place to call home, access to abundant food, clean water and air — the basic necessities of life essential for survival in any community. I am also thankful and appreciative of life’s good and bad moments, because “thankfulness creates gratitude which generates contentment that causes peace,” to quote Todd Stocker. I am thankful to God for it is He who makes the impossible possible and from where all good things come. Finally, for more ideas on what else to be thankful for, you can find that here.

May you and your family experience everlasting joy and peace this holiday season.

Image credit: Susan Ho