I wanted to write a Thanksgiving post different from the one I wrote last year, and as I wracked my brain to think of what I am most appreciative of this season, it occurred to me that it’s my ability to appreciate that feels most valuable.
It is so incredibly easy to focus on the deficiencies in our lives. To zero in on what we don’t have yet or what is going wrong. We can take things for granted on a daily basis, lamenting the fact that we don’t have as much money as we’d like or we’re not driving the kind of car we want or we haven’t reached a certain life milestone—all the while, ignoring the fortune we enjoy with good health, good friends, roofs over our heads, clothing on our bodies.
It is so easy to always be thinking about that next thing instead of savoring the moment and being thankful for what we have right now. It takes work to be grateful. Or maybe it just takes time and reconditioning.
At the end of 2004, I was miserable in my job, hopelessly single and feeling like I’d lost my direction in life. I started keeping a gratitude journal and it was amazing how much it helped me to force myself to stop and think about all the positives.
Four years later, I’ve honed the skill. I no longer keep a journal, but I do remind myself often just how good I have it. When I start feeling the darkness creep into my mind, I try to switch on the light. When one door closes I remind myself that another door will surely open—and what's behind it could be better than what I had before. When my thoughts wander to an area of lack, I make an effort to seek out other areas of abundance.
And so this Thanksgiving, I am most thankful for this ability. The ability to see the good.