When you get thinking about Thanksgiving, there’s a ton of territory you can mull over, and I have likely mulled my way over a great deal of ideas over the years. I think this year the concept and habit of gratitude has been ringing in my mind the most. The tendency towards gratefulness seems in short supply around us sometimes, and when people forget to thank others and above for their gifts and blessings, it illustrates a root cause for many ills. If you aren’t a grateful person, are you a selfish person? Perhaps. I do think that this might be so.
Gratitude doesn’t always seem to come naturally. I fear it might be a rare thing. I’ve noticed this with people. Whether or not you believe in the Bible, or more specifically, the New Testament, I often think of the story (or little parable) about the ten lepers who begged for mercy and Jesus helped them towards being healed, and only one stopped to turn back and give thanks. Ten asked for help, all ten were healed, but only one said thank you. Is that the percentage we might expect? If we give generously to others, only ten percent of people will thank us? And, are we in that top ten percent? Do we remember to be thankful for any gift, kindness, or blessing?
I tried to teach my children since they were quite young to be thankful for all that they had. I told them that if they wanted to ask for something new, they must prove their deservedness by taking care of and being grateful for what they already had. Before I thought to teach my children gratitude, I had realized that I needed to cultivate that in myself. Giving thanks. Whether you thank the Heavens above, or you say thank you to anyone who gives you anything, being grateful is a good thing. Being grateful is good for you.
Gratitude. Generosity. The two seem to go hand in hand, don’t they? It just seems to me that a grateful person is also more likely to be generous to others as well. This all reminds me of something a friend told me decades ago. Her very rich mother, who hadn’t always been so, had always said, ‘if you are generous when you are poor, you will be generous when you are rich.’ And by the same token, ‘if you are not generous when you are poor, you won’t be generous when you are rich.’ The point was that it wasn’t how much you had, but how much you were willing to share of what you had. I’ve seen over time in people I have seen become rich that this tends to be true: greed and selfishness remains no matter what the income rises to.
My thought is that we should be thankful and generous, no matter whether rich or poor. Maybe it is a habit thing. If we are in the habit of being ungrateful and ungenerous, it might be a habit that is hard to break, even when our financial circumstances change for the better. And, beyond all that, the attitude of gratitude is a far better thing; and generosity goes a long way to bettering those around you as well as yourself.