I wanted to take a unique perspective on being thankful this Thanksgiving. (Sorry, I’m a month late for my Canadian friends.) Last November I talked about active thankfulness and giving thanks TO others (people) not just being thankful for things.
When most folks think of being thankful it’s usually for the “positive” things in their life. I just visited a website at www.thankfulfor.com where folks post what they are thankful for. Here are a few examples of what I read:
- My mother and the fact that she tells me she loves me every day.
- My awesome hair and all the compliments I get on it!
- 94 on my strategic management test
- My family and good friends
- Financial security
- My health
- My kids sleeping in their own beds
There are thousands and thousands more, but you get the picture. I am also thankful for many of the things listed above but this year I’m also thankful for the not-so-positive things. I’m thankful for:
- Having low self-esteem and self-confidence most of my life
- Having no money and taking 20 years to payoff my student loans
- Being bullied and teased as a dorky, cry-baby, jock growing up in a small town
- Failing and dropping Calculus III twice in college
I’m thankful for…
- Being diagnosed with melanoma when I was 17 years old
- Lying to a dear friend and having her never speak to me again
- Crying in the CFO’s office (my boss) when he criticized my decisions and actions
- Not telling someone I loved them before it was too late.
These may seem like odd things to be thankful for but it’s not comfort and peace that create growth. Discomfort and challenges trigger GROWTH.
I’m thankful for these things because I now know that crying in your boss’s office, being bullied and teased, and being under massive debt may be painful but they are not fatal.
I am so thankful for these things because each challenge or obstacle has helped me to grow and become a better “me”. Most people spend countless hours trying to avoid, dodge, evade and ignore discomfort and challenges. All the while they are missing out on their unique opportunity to become more tomorrow than they are today.
So today I’d like to encourage you to spend some time being thankful for your challenges, yes, even your failures. Why? Because while failures may in fact be final, if you’re reading this, I can guarantee that they weren’t fatal. Use your past challenges and failures as stepping stones. Don’t try to avoid them.
As Og Mandino writes in “The Greatest Salesman in the World”:
I will love the sun for it warms my bones; yet I will love the rain for it cleanses my spirit.
I will love the light for it shows me the way; yet I will love the darkness for it shows me the stars.
I will welcome happiness for it enlarges my heart; yet I will endure sadness for it opens my soul.
I will acknowledge rewards for they are my due; yet I will welcome obstacles for they are my challenge.
You are more than a conqueror. Conquerors just overcome obstacles. More-than-conquerors don’t just live through challenges, they also learn and grow from them.
Be better tomorrow than you are today… not by avoiding challenges but by seeking them out and being thankful for them.
Wishing you and your family a terrific holiday!!