Monday, November 7, 2011

Giving Thanks

Giving Thanks

It started close to 400 years ago in New England. The modern Thanksgiving holiday tradition traces its origins to a 1621 harvest celebration at Plymouth. There is also evidence of an earlier celebration by Spanish explorers in Florida during 1565. As far back in recorded history as you can go - around the world, there have been celebrations of thanks at harvest time.
The Plymouth feast and Thanksgiving are what we now celebrate however. They were prompted not only by a good harvest, but also in appreciation of the Wampanoag Indians who helped the Pilgrims by providing seeds; also teaching the settlers the fine art of hunting in the area.
Some say if the Indians could have foreseen the future onslaught of European settlers coming, they may not have been so hospitable! But seriously, it would not have mattered; this continent was destined to be discovered by the rest of the world. Sooner or later, somebody would have “found it,” that’s for sure. Progress and change were coming no matter what.
I always say there is a silver lining to every situation. Thinking along those lines, looking at it from a positive point of view, folks should be glad the Pilgrims who came here first (after the Indians that is) were the Christian based Europeans. Imagine if Red China or another country such as that had gotten here ahead of Columbus. There would be no “Native American” culture alive and thriving here…or any other type of free “American” culture for that matter.
“Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.” Alphonse Karr
There are always positives in every situation, something to be thankful for; you just have to look for it. I am thankful that America is here today.
Being thankful is so much more than a once-a-year holiday tradition. Daily thanks are more important than some may realize. It has the power to set the tone of an entire day, project, week, year, or lifetime. It is hard to be grouchy, negative or in a bad mood when you are focusing on being thankful!
I start every day by giving thanks for my many blessings in life…even if at times they seem hard to count. But no matter what kind of spirit I wake up in, it doesn’t take long to change my outlook once I’ve thought about the positives in life.
“What ever a man sows, that he will also reap.” Gal. 6:7
Remember what we plant within ourselves in the way of thoughts, feelings and attitudes are the seeds of our outer life experiences. All things have their beginnings within us…in thought. For some that is hard to believe, others never really think about it, but upon further analysis, it can be no other way.
“The ancestor of every great action is a thought.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
If you approach life in a surly or negative mood that is exactly what life will give you back. Snapping at the person behind the counter or on the other end of the phone does not get you better customer service. As a matter of fact, it gets you worse service and you will not get favors, special treatment or opportunities that a positive person in a good mood will get. Give attitude – get attitude, in one-way or another that is always the case. When you get right down to it - it is your thoughts, which control your attitude. How you think about things determine your being in a good or bad mood.
Besides not getting customer service and productive interactions with your fellow man, thoughts are also the basis of most everything material as well. Buildings, machinery, techno-devices, money and such do not just spring into reality on their own, by spontaneous combustion. They originate as the product of someone’s thoughts and dreams first. Folks who invent and plan those products and successful ventures never do so out of negativity or with a “that won’t work” type of attitude.
“Whether you think that you can, or that you cant, either way you are right.” Henry Ford
Many go as far to say that things on the invisible plane such as “luck,” “fate,” and “chance,” whether good or bad are created through your own thoughts. Think productive, happy, positive thoughts and things seem to go your way. Be negative, grouchy and surly and things never seem to work out for you.
The latter type of folk generally point a finger at the positive type and say things like, “He was just born lucky, everything he touches turns to gold while everything I touch turns to bull manure.” The so-called “Midas touch.” They honestly believe that - then wonder why life turns out bad for them. There is a direct correlation between what you think and feel and how things turn out for you.
Think about it: Everything starts with a thought (even this great big universe started out as a Divine thought somewhere). How you think then sets the tone for how you feel. Negative, grouchy thoughts turn into bad moods just as happy, positive thoughts turn into good moods.
How you feel, determines the mode of action you take in life. If you feel good, you interact with folks likewise. You come up with positive solutions to obstacles in business or work; the opposite is also true if you are surly or negative.
Last, but not least, your actions become chain-reactions, which set up the results you get from life. Nobody likes to be around a grouch. They will find ways to excuse themselves from a situation as soon as possible. People do not like to see you coming if they know the exchange may be an unpleasant one. Also, when an opportunity comes along, whom do you think gets first chance at it? Not the guy who is negative, that’s for sure.
So your actions have a direct correlation on the results you get out of life; that has not been disputed for ages: “Work harder,” “Try more,” “Dig deeper,” “Go the extra mile,” are all sayings which have been around forever it seems.
What folks don’t always realize, however, is the attitude they approach life with makes a big difference in how well those work ethics pan out for them. I guarantee the guy with a happy and positive attitude, and the same work ethic, will beat out the grumpy one…sooner or later.
“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” Willie Nelson
So what does all of this have to do with giving thanks, you may ask? Simple. By being thankful for what you have, by focusing on your blessings in life instead of the shortcomings, it naturally puts you in a better mood. It is hard to remain in a bad mood when you focus on being grateful. Thinking about what you don’t have in life instead of being thankful for what you do have is counter-productive anyway.
“A man is just about as happy as he makes his mind up to be.” Abraham Lincoln
That is a profound statement. How do you make your mind up to be happy, one may ask? Start with being thankful and you are half way there.
 “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord, giving thanks to God the Father.” Col. 3:17
Great people of achievement, and the Bible, tell us over and over again to be thankful. Why do they do this? Because they know by being thankful, you put your thoughts into a more positive mode. Doing this changes your attitude. As you change your attitude, you change how you approach life. When you approach life feeling good and positive, your actions (efforts) change, then you get better results.
“I thank God for my handicaps. For through them, I have found myself, my work and my God.” Helen Keller
Try not to focus on things outside of your control; it does no good anyhow. Start with being the best you can be, work on self first, then your whole world changes. It is simple. The great people of the past and God have always taught us this - good starts from within. Of course, this eventually manifests into better realities without. The easiest way to begin is by being thankful for what you now have. I recommend you do it daily at a minimum. It will have a profound and positive effect on your life.
This Thanksgiving, there is nothing wrong with sitting around, stuffing yourself on a nice home-cooked meal. But please remember that giving thanks (not just once-a-year or once-a-week - but daily) is a very important step in creating the reality you will live with tomorrow and every tomorrow thereafter.
Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Jim Olson
© 2011


  1. Well said, well done. There is a symbiotic relationship between giving thanks and receiving goodness. ~M

  2. Maria, I agree. Expecting before giving is like asking a stove for heat before providing fuel.