Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Four terms for Thanksgiving 2013

A True Thanksgiving Feast?
What does thanksgiving look like at your house? 
Where do we actually begin?  Do we sit around the table and recite what we are thankful for?  Do we reminisce about our favorite thanksgiving?  Do we overdo it on tryptophan and trimmings?  Travel to visit family and friends, increase our stress and try to cope with all the distractions? Following our Presidential advice,  …  
... When 
we join with friends and neighbors to alleviate suffering and 
make our communities whole, we honor the spirit of President 
Abraham Lincoln, who called on his fellow citizens to "fervently 
implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the 
wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be 
consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of 
peace, harmony, tranquility, and union." 
 Or do we focus to find peace in our minds about our current state of affairs maybe considering this plight worse than any other?
Work - Optimism 
What description is suitable, acceptable, and sufficient actually addresses the true state of affairs?  Would terms like good, wonderful, excellent or work?  Would these accurately describe anything, or could they describe everything and nothing at the same time?  At any work place, there are always good and bad issues!  Trite phrases and shallow expletives fail to actually share how things truly remain.  Instead, numbers, data combined with anecdotal evidence often paint an accurate picture.  But like a picture that never fully does the truth justice, our descriptions can never fully capture the conditions!  Often how we perceive things, optimistically or pessimistically fosters growth or progress or slows down any advancements.  Hence, attitudes become personal barometers or indicators of success. 
Family or Friends - Forgiveness 
Much has been written describing the various commonalities and differences between family and friends.  Of course, we can’t pick our family but we can pick our friends. Together, these represent the people around us and in our paths that we either build up or tear down. Regardless of prior experiences, at this season, maybe the remembering and focusing on the positive becomes a priority.  Arguments are easy to begin but can acceptance and kindness overcome the past?  Maybe that is the place for true forgiveness?  Maybe that is what we should practice?  Like a doctors business being labeled a practice, forgiveness is also a practice.  It is not simple.  It is not easy and it is not a single event but a process.  We struggle, ponder and try self-righteous indignation, claiming pure innocence.  Yet as we forgive others, we also learn to forgive ourselves, heal and recover from past pains.  If we can’t forgive ourselves, we won’t be able to forgive others.
Life or Health - Service
Obviously, those spending time reading this are up and going but to piggyback from the last topic, maybe forgiveness is the best gift we can offer to those less fortunate and service is the action that stems from the attitude?  Only as a speculation but, are our efforts to remain healthy possibly physical as well as mental?  Maybe we should reconcile relationships with others as well as ourselves?  Maybe forgiveness becomes a component of mental health, leading to better physical health?  Reduced blood pressure may be an indicator, especially if resulting from natural adjustments, like attitude adjustments, forgiveness and serving others.  But physical health often aligns with psychological well-being.  Serving others may remind us of our own mortality, remind of our own blessings and connect us with them in synergistic and mutual beneficial ways.
More stuff than???  - Contentment
Finally, we look at our things.  We consider what we have.  Our list of wants and needs is often insatiable as we learn more about the offerings available.  A little story about motivating primitive workers by catalogs illustrates this.  A version went like this.  A factory opened up in an area where folks did not yet have a lot of other indicators of commercialism.  After the first week, when the locals received their check on Friday, they failed to come to work on Monday.  Allegedly, they had made so much during the prior week, they could sit idle and have their needs met for some time.  It wasn't till catalogs and commercialism taught them what was available did they return to work, with a renewed vigor.  This simple illustration is not meant to be a slam against capitalism, free market economies or big business but an indicator of human nature.  We won’t know we want something if we don’t know it exists!  Where does this stop?  Can we be happy or content with what we have?  Does our aspiration consume all our energy?  Do we own our stuff, or does our stuff own us?
This thanksgiving, maybe we could consider four things?  Optimism, forgiveness, service, and contentment.

Optimism that things the way things are is better than the way it could be!
Forgiveness for others, and ourselves as well!
Service to others and alongside others.
Contentment with all that we have here in these United States.

Authors Note:  This is actually my 100th post published.  Ironic it would be on such a special occasion.

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