I struggle with thankfulness.
If you asked me whether a glass was half full or half empty, I'd answer by saying, "I don't like the glass that the water's in, so what difference does it make?"
I'm fully convinced that were Jesus to appear to me, I'd probably critique his choice of sandals and how he trims (or doesn't trim) his beard.
Whenever I eat at a new restaurant, I always check the bathrooms first. If the bathrooms are dirty, than, in my opinion, so is the kitchen, and I won't ever eat there again.
For some reason, both my nature and nurture have reared me to see the details. I can walk into a room and instantly point out everything that is broken, out of place, dirty, or in need of maintenance.
This is a gift.
This is also a curse.
My great "self-work" in life is to use this "curse" to notice the good in the world, even though I am wired to see the bad.
The other day, an MTA worker helped me carry my kids in their stroller up the stairs. I thanked him, then the next day sent a note to his supervisor letting him know how much I appreciated the help and that he should promote the guy.
I saw an elderly man get hit by a bike across the street a few weeks ago, and a whole herd of people tackled the biker who was trying to ride away. At the same time, a whole other herd of people stopped traffic and lifted the elderly man to his feet helping him to the curb.
Whenever I see policemen in my neighborhood coffeeshop, I make an effort to thank them for their service to our city, because I know that they are the constant recipients of criticism.
When I participate in "active thankfulness," it brightens the world that I often see as "dark." It also spawns incentive to express my thankfulness more often in the future.
Whatever you are facing this Thanksgiving Holiday...
...the loss of a job
...the loss of a loved one
...an empty checking account
...feelings of loneliness or anxiety
...by all means, acknowledge reality! Of course those thing are devastating! But also take some time look at your life and find something (or someone) to be thankful for.
Maybe it's saying thanks to someone in your life for just being "in your life." They are only a phone call, a card, or text away.
Maybe it's thanking God for what you do have, instead of being upset about all that you don't have yet.
Maybe this is how we "rewire" ourselves (if you're wired like I am). For every bad, there is something good. There are plenty of things in the world that are terrible. But there's good there, too. Sometimes we just have to dig a little deeper to find it.
After all, digging through dirt is how every treasure is found.