2016 was a good year for us. We are truly grateful for so many blessings, and with that statement I share with you my 2017 resolution. My resolution is not something new that I’m going to start but a continuation of something that I have been doing, that I need to continue and perhaps do more of.
My resolution for 2017 is to acknowledge and give thanks for all of our blessings.
When I was a teenager I remember my dad saying, “gratitude will change your attitude”. At that time I didn’t get it. These words were simply dads way of pointing out that I (or someone) had a bad attitude, or as he also liked to say I (or someone) “needed an attitude adjustment”.
As I matured I came to have a greater understanding of this phrase and believe this to be true. One time when my two youngest daughters, who are three years apart in age, were preteen and young teen, they were fighting over a scarf. For some reason, that day, the girls both decided to wear that particular scarf. I don’t believe the scarf belonged to either girl specifically so it was probably a hand-me-down given by a friend or relative. The girls’ words to each other were mean and hateful, and I thought that they were going to start hitting each other. I put an end to the fight by confiscating the scarf; neither girl would wear it that day. Having three sisters myself, I realized that fighting over clothes was something sisters do, but this fight was so disturbing that I could not overlook it. I couldn’t understand how these girls who had so much – lived in a nice house, were well fed, had closets and dressers full of clothes, toys, books etc… could be fighting over something so petty. These girls obviously did not appreciate all that they had, they did not realize what things were truly important, and they needed an attitude adjustment. I gave the girls an assignment. Each girl was to write down 25 things that they were thankful for, and give me the list by the end of the day.
This was a powerful lesson. As I was driving to work that morning I began developing my own list in my mind. I saw the blue sky and the sun still coming up and was grateful for the gift of sight. I could hear the radio playing and the noise the vehicle made as it traveled down the road, my hands and feet worked properly to operate the vehicle and these were blessings that not everyone was fortunate enough to enjoy. I thought about how I was thankful to being born in, and live in Michigan, in the USA. My list grew to include my job, my (now) husband, my family and so many others in my life, and I was truly humbled. Most of these things were not things that I had earned or deserved, they certainly were not entitlements, and any of these things could be taken away from me at any moment.
Humility turned to empathy and compassion as I thought about people who did not have these things, and I realized it was from the goodness of God that I was who I was, I had what I had, and I was living the life I was living.
Eventually I came to realize that greed and pride can not coexist with gratitude and humility, and while empathy and compassion may foster kindness, they are not compatible with anger and resentment. Not only does acknowledging and giving thanks for my blessings make me a better person, it gives me a peaceful feeling.
I’m not sure if this lesson had an impact on my daughters. I did receive their lists and while I can’t tell you what was on them, I can tell you that neither of them listed the scarf.
I plan to write a gratitude journal, but I will not wait until the 4th Thursday in November to celebrate Thanksgiving. I will carry the spirit of Thanksgiving with me throughout the year.
Wishing You a Happy New Year and Godspeed in 2017.