“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘thank you’, that would suffice.” - Meister Eckhart
Thanksgiving as celebrated in the USA is one of my favourite Public Holidays. It is a pity that we do not have such an equivalent day in Australia, or for that matter a worldwide Thanksgiving Day. People nowadays, especially in the developed nations of the world I believe, do not take enough time to reflect and contemplate all the wonderful things in their lives that they should be thankful for. To formally put aside a day and devote it to catching up with family and friends, to share a meal and join hands together in common gratitude for all the good things in our lives is a good honest tradition. It gives a positive message to young people and there are lessons there to be learnt about ingratitude and greed. Here is a nice short video on the history of Thanksgiving
on the History Channel site.
The really important things in our lives are few and are universally held to be fundamental to our living a full and contented existence: Health, some food and shelter, loving and being loved. Not much, you may think but that is so much! How many people around the world will go hungry today? There 850 million chronically hungry people worldwide and 2.2 billion undernourished ones. How many people will not have a safe place to sleep in tonight? An estimated 100 million people worldwide are homeless. As for the chronically sick, dying and people with inadequate or no medical care, their numbers run in the many billions worldwide.
Loving and being loved, having family and friends around us that we can turn to for support, for appreciation, for company, for sharing of good and bad times? How many people around the world live alone, loveless, friendless, without a person next to them that they can turn to? Alarming numbers of men (as many as 20% between the ages of 20-65), especially, in Western countries are now finding that they are living alone and hating it.
But don’t be fooled into thinking that wealth and its attendant popularity will bring you lasting happiness. Their effect is most likely small and fleeting. It is important to have a reasonable standard of living, but in my travels I have seen some genuinely happy people who possess next to nothing and who live a deeply fulfilling and contented life. The secret is to be happy with what you have.
It is important to develop good relationships with a circle of friends. To invest in and maintain a loving marriage or equivalent long-term relationship. To have work, yes, enjoy your paid employment, but keep in mind also that people who have some voluntary work have been shown to be more happy. Break away from the monster of selfishness. If you look outside yourself you’ll see that there are wonderful people to share your life with as friends, acquaintances and neighbours.
Contemplate the world around you and think deeply about what you believe. Spiritual beliefs and ethical values, hope and purpose are very important for well-being. To live our life in a broader framework than the “me and now”, to extend our activities beyond a cause greater than ourselves is one of the biggest keys to satisfaction in life. To be happy is to be able to go easy on others, to forgive, to offer support, to show gratitude.Happy Thanksgiving, wherever you are, be thankful for what you have and celebrate the contribution others make to your well-being!