A Simple Way To Keep Perspective on Thanksgiving

Millions of blogs are written every day, about millions of topics, and read by millions of people.

I wonder how many of them will talk about being thankful today.

It makes sense, because blog writers tend to write about what’s on their mind at the moment.  And today, it’s Thanksgiving.

I’ve been thinking about that leading up to this post.  What is there to say that hasn’t already been said?

Nothing.  There are really no new ideas – just new perspectives (because each writer is unique).

So, here’s my perspective on thankfulness today:

It’s all about people.

SnoopyWhen someone does something for us, we say “Thank you.”  We teach our kids to do that.  It’s polite.  And if done with intention, it’s meaningful.

It says, “Somebody thought about me, and did something for me.  They didn’t have to, but they did.  They cared.” 

When that happens, we’re thankful – and we express it.

We don’t say “thank you” to inanimate objects.

When a cool breeze blows, we don’t say, “Thank you, wind.”

When we find our car keys after a lengthy search, we don’t say, “Thank you, keys.”

When we discover a deposit in our bank account that we forgot to enter, we don’t say, “Thank you, Wells Fargo.”

We thank people.

The opposite of thankfulness isn’t ungratefulness.  It’s selfishness.  It says, “I don’t need anybody else.  I can live life on my own.”  It devalues the role of other people in our lives.

We value independence in our society.  We don’t want to depend on others.  As a toddler says, “I want to do it by myself.”

So we do it by ourselves.

And we live lonely lives.

Independence is actually a good thing, where we have the ability to make healthy choices in life.  But when it turns into selfishness, it gets in the way of relationships and sucks the life out of us.

Thankfulness is all about people.  It turns independence into interdependence.

Today is Thanksgiving.  Here’s a simple exercise to keep today in perspective:

  • If you’re celebrating with family or friends, pick one person to focus on today – someone you often take for granted.  Think of one thing about them that you’re grateful for, then tell them – and say “thank you.”

 

  • If you’re alone today, pick one person to focus on that you tend to take for granted.  It might be a friend or family member, or it could be a delivery person, restaurant server or someone you pass on the street occasionally.  Think of something about them that you’re grateful for, then find a way to let them know.  Maybe seek them out, or make a quick call, or hand-write a letter or invite them to go on a walk.  Then, say “Thank you.”

That’s it.  One person.  Be intentional about it, and be creative.  It doesn’t have to be fancy.  Just find a way to express thanks to them, in the simplest way.

It could change their entire day, and maybe their life.

It will definitely change yours.

Today, I’m grateful for you.  I don’t take it lightly that you wander on this journey with me a couple of times a week.  You’re good company, and you keep the journey from being lonely.

Thank you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Senior Consultant at FranklinCovey; Speaker, Author of 5 books - including "People Can't Drive You Crazy If You Don't Give Them the Keys," "I Wish He Had Come With Instructions," and "Dealing With the Elephant in the Room." (See Book page)

  • natasha

    great! thank you a lot !!!
    But it’s a pitty that we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving Day in our country !!!

    • Maybe not – but you could hold your own personal holiday! (What country do you live in?)

      • natasha

        right!!!
        (Now I live in Ukraine, but my native country is Moldova).

  • Phil Dickey

    Happy Thanksgiving, Mike (and Diane). Thanks for the good words for
    today. It reminds me of a situation from when I was working in the
    automotive repair business. I have tried to make a habit of thanking
    people often, so i don’t even think much about it anymore. Anyway, one
    of the other mechanics in the shop asked me one day, “In the other shops
    where you worked, didn’t anyone ever help you on a job?” I said, “yes,
    why?”. He said, “because you are always thanking me when I help out”. I
    said, “no matter how often someone helps me, I ALWAYS appreciate it.” I
    was struck by the fact that he thought it was unusual to say a simple
    “Thanks”. Since then, I’ve tried to be even more careful to thank
    people.

    • You’re right – interesting that most of us need a special day during the year to remind us to do it. I read Deborah Norville’s book, “Thank You Power” a couple of years ago, where she talked about how rare it is (backed up with research) — and how powerful!

  • Cory Shaull

    Happy Thanksgiving Mike! I am thankful for your God- given insight! I am going to make place cards for everyone and write why I am thankful for that person on the back. Hope the family won’t think I am being too cheesy!

    • If they make fun of you, just tell them, “Yeah, it’s cheesy . . . but it’s true. So live with it . . ” Great idea! Thanks, Cory