It is that time of year – the time when we are reminded to be thankful for all that is good in our lives. If you are sitting at your desk at work, in a comfortable chair at home, or even in a waiting room while reading this, chances are you have good reasons to be thankful.
But it occurs to me this time every year that it is a bit odd that we need a holiday to remind us to count our blessings. Don’t get me wrong, I love the big turkey dinner as much as the next gal and don’t get me started on the thrill of Black Friday shopping. But wouldn’t it be nice if we could recognize the benefit of extending that “attitude of gratitude,” as Quality of Life columnist Jonna Kane MacDougall calls it, throughout the year? And if you’re a person who says to yourself, “But what’s in that for me?” as Jonna explains in her column below, research has shown that a positive attitude can actually boost your immune system. Now, one less cold this winter would be something to be thankful for, wouldn’t it?
Perception plays a big role in our ability to be grateful. The way we approach life impacts how we perceive the world around us. If you are a person who makes New Year resolutions, consider getting Dr. Kent M. Keith’s book: “Anyway: The Paradoxical Commandments.” Written for high school students as a leadership guide in the late 1960s, the book has now been published in many languages and was reportedly posted by Mother Teresa on a wall in a children’s home in Calcutta.
Read Keith’s paradoxical commandments. If you aren’t ready to make that big of a commitment, you don’t even have to read the entire book (which would literally take the average person an hour or two). Just read the commandments. One I try to take to heart is No. 4: “The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.” I think that reminds us to not only do things for others, but to also live in the moment.
It is amazing how much happier people seem to feel when they are spending their time focused on doing good for others. They are those who’ve moved from the realm of “planning” to “doing.” There is an inspirational sign often seen in stores and coffee shops that reads “The smallest deed always exceeds the grandest of intentions.” I don’t know who to credit that thought to, but I’ll bet that person was thankful for the life he or she was living, and was probably “paying it forward.”
Let me leave you with Paradoxical Commandment No. 7: “People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs. Fight for a few underdogs anyway.” On page 7, Indiana Lawyer reporter Jenny Montgomery conveys the story of a college student in Indiana who came to this country as a child and is an undocumented immigrant, but was working hard and on the path to building a good life here. An immigration-related law that took effect in Indiana this year has derailed her efforts.
Our system isn’t perfect. Clearly, we must have and enforce laws. But in the spirit of the pilgrims – this country’s first immigrants – perhaps we can work together to find a better approach that will serve everyone, top dogs and underdogs alike.
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