I never understood the need for a special holiday dedicated to counting one’s blessings. Shouldn’t we be doing this every single day?
Yes, I am aware of the origins of Thanksgiving. Some historians believe the roots of this celebration can be found in the Dutch city of Leiden, where many future pilgrims lived before they set sail to the New World.
Whether the Dutch were involved or not, I really wish people would be more thankful for what they have all year round. But here’s the hard truth:
We aren’t grateful for the things we take for granted. Why is that?
Many of us live our life on automatic pilot, expecting things to be the same, day in day out. Predicability may sound boring, but when things are consistent you don’t have to worry about what tomorrow will bring. And who doesn’t want less stress in their life?
It’s only when unexpected, unpleasant things happen, that we realize how vulnerable we really are, and how easy it is for our bubble to burst. Quite often, we need to be without something for a while, to realize how much we miss it.
Last winter our heater stopped working and we had to wait for many cold hours to get it fixed. This spring we didn’t have running water for a day, and that was very inconvenient. For our first six months in Vermont, we didn’t have high-speed internet access (a major pain in the you know what), and when COVID finally reached our home, we were reminded of how precious our health really is.
I think the reason many of us feel more entitled than grateful, has to do with the crazy pace of life and all its distractions. We literally do not take the time to STOP, BE IN THE MOMENT, and APPRECIATE what we have. In fact, it’s a miracle that you’re still reading theses words! Shouldn’t you be doing something else by now? Why aren’t you getting ready for Black Friday?
So, perhaps it is a good thing that we gather around the table, put our phones away, and take a few hours just to be together and enjoy a nice meal. How many families still do that, these days?
This Thanksgiving, I will be thinking of my family, but I will also be thinking of you.
Yes, YOU, the person reading these words right now. I vow to never take you for granted, and to always be grateful for your support and for our connection.
THE FRIDAY FRENZY
As you know, tomorrow is Black Friday, and if you’re like most people, you probably have a list of things you’d like to get, if the price is right.
My list is super short: all I’m looking for is a new mirrorless camera. I’ve had my old one since 2014, and it’s no longer doing what I want it to do.
Part of me is looking forward to a new piece of gear, but part of me is also uncomfortable with this purchase. Moving to Vermont, we were supposed to live a more simple life, with less stuff. But here’s how I justify my buy.
As a budding content creator, original photos and video can help me stand out from those relying on stock footage. Better equipment will also inspire me to take better pictures. Secondly, my wife and I have decided to invest in experiences instead of in things, and a camera helps us capture those moments.
So, we’re going to afford ourselves one splurge, knowing that we are already investing a lot of money in our businesses this year. My new voice over studio is almost complete, and my wife is now expanding her music studio to accommodate group lessons.
In the process of creating more space, we already have a number of boxes filled with stuff we no longer need that can be donated. We make an effort to live a “less is more” life, and that’s something that goes against the grain of American consumerism.
Traditional thinking tells us that in order to make things better in our life, we need MORE things. All advertising is based on this idea. Essential thinking tells us that to improve our lives, we need to take things away. We have to eliminate the non-essentials to create space for what matters most.
To do that, you and I will have to give up our attachment to some of the things we already own, but how do you do that? I recently sold most of my microphone collection, and as I took each mic in my hand, I asked the following question:
“If I wouldn’t already own this mic, would I make an effort to obtain it?” If the answer is NO, it means I can live without it.
You can ask this question for any object, and you’ll be surprised how freeing this is.
Added bonus: wanting and using less stuff is also better for the future of our planet.
Randy Mahoney says
Thank you for your thoughts, Paul. I sometimes wonder why we have to reserve one day, only one day, to be thankful for anything and everything. I guess we forget and need to be reminded. It’s 6:30 am and I am preparing to drive 2 hours in less than ideal weather to be able to spend the day with a “new” family. I am thankful that I have the good fortune to able to do so.
Paul Strikwerda says
Drive safely, Randy. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!
Ali Hurley says
Well stated and thought provoking…yes we all need to be Thankful for things taken for granted….it only takes putting forward a little effort in the morning to sit on the edge of the bed to say Thank You.
Thanks for the reminder 🙂 😀
Jim Edgar says
Such a wonderful reminder, Paul. Thank you for sharing these thoughts.
Joshua Alexander says
Aren’t we all kids with toys? We want it SOOOOO bad…but then we get it, and the fantasy becomes a reality more diminutive than the fantasy itself. The tangible becomes less desirable than the pursuit, and so the allure is set to vanish quickly. My kids THINK they want that toy – and they do, make no mistake – but then how long do they play with it after they get it? 3 days? A week? Two weeks? After that, it’s on to the next thing, and then perhaps a year later it can be found with so many other things at the bottom of a big black Glad bag on its way to Goodwill to bless someone else. Solomon called this “a chasing after the wind.” Meaningless! More stuff is meaningless. It’s the stuff that is IN-tangible: human connection….family…good talks in the living room over coffee….holding someone… giving things away and not keeping them. That’s truly where it’s at, and for that I give thanks this year.
Would you believe I’m just reading this in the first week of December? Yeah. I agree, being thankful is not common in our present American society. We’re used to having our way or demanding something that someone else should have gotten but now we think we must have. We have a lot of growing to do. The funny thing is that when you fail to appreciate what you have, it can be taken away and sometimes is never returned. Let be thankful as a lifestyle. Keep writing Paul, you’re all right.
Paul Strikwerda says
I am thankful that you’re still reading my stories, Leesha!