Around 4:00 am on Thanksgiving morning I awoke and was thinking about our family tradition of going around the table where everyone said what they were thankful for. My former students came to mind and I realized that they’re all in fine jobs now, most of them with families of their own. Turning back to go to sleep it occurred to me that, for my words of thanksgiving to be authentic they ought to carry through into action. Truly, it’s “by our works that we shall be known.”
So I got up and scribbled a note to that effect. As soon as my head hit the pillow again there came an avalanche of things that I and most of us say we’re grateful for. I offer them here as sort of an after Thanksgiving contemplation. Also it gives me an opportunity to share a few photos of former students so you can see why I give thanks for the privilege of having worked with them.
So for what do we give thanks—and what action would make it genuine?
If plenty — share
If shelter — contribute to those without it
If for a toy or technology — use it harmlessly and to uplift the spirit
If a belief — live it in silence
If health — do what it takes to maintain and improve it
If a relationship — caring, support and empowerment
If love of anyone — expand it to include everyone
If a child — demonstrate love and be a positive role model
If pets or other animals —treat them with respect and provide for their health and well-being
If the work we do — perform it with competence, responsibility, creativity and integrity
If a life of privilege — do something for those less privileged
If for those who serve in the military — let them know they are appreciated
If for a skill or talent — develop it further; use it to uplift and inspire
If position or status — use it wisely and execute it kindly
If simply being together — make the most of it
If a system — care for both the parts and the whole
If freedom — respect the freedom of others
If the use of environmental resources — strive to minimize the footprint and recycle
If power or wealth —make it “power with” rather than “power over”
If peace on earth — make peace where there is conflict and create peace in the home
If silence — be the witness
If simply being alive — do some small thing every day to experience joy and advance purpose
Reviewing my notes I noticed that gratitude and its attendant actions have been nicely summarized in the perennial advice to “walk your talk.” It’s a lot easier to remember on a daily basis.
To be civilized means to live a life that cherishes others and exudes gratitude and joy.
Bo Lozoff (Humanitarian)
If you are really thankful, what do you do? You share.
W. Clement Stone (Philanthropist and author)