Since this blog is premiering on Thanksgiving Day, I thought it might be a good time to focus on the value of giving thanks as an important part of your daily living. Although I see the importance of having specific days to honor things that have value to most people, like Thanksgiving, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Birthdays, Anniversaries etc. I believe that what you do the other 350 or so days a year are much more significant.
Just like gamedays in sports, it’s easy to put forth effort and do your best on these days. But as any great athlete will tell you (if you ask), what separates the great from the good is all the effort they are putting when no one is watching. Similarly, it’s easy to show up with a nice shiny gift on your child’s birthday, and that will get a great reaction, but does that make you a good mother or father? If you buy your spouse an expensive gift for their birthday, while you are in the middle of having an affair, does it mean you are a good partner or that the affair never happened? Of course not, both of those examples are simply efforts to mask the guilt you feel for not doing what’s in the best interest of others the rest of the year.
We humans like to take the easiest route we can find. If working hard while no one is watching and without any guarantee of future success/stardom was easy, we’d all be LeBron James or Russell Wilson. The fact is, it is not easy being a great athlete, great parent or great spouse. Our society glamorizes shiny things and many of us admire and envy the people who have a lot of them, but the fact is that it is not easy being a great athlete, parent or spouse. That requires a lot more than just buying shiny things.
I have been fortunate to be exposed to both ends of the spectrum and I no longer envy those with shiny things or the shiny things themselves either. I used to think those things were the path to happiness, but I now, know I was instinctively looking for the easy way to find happiness.
As any of my clients will tell you, I often say ‘the happiest people I know are not the ones who have the most, but rather the ones who need the least.’ I often also tell my clients that many of the ways the brain works best are counterintuitive and maybe that’s why I have learned that the deepest form of happiness I have found has come through struggles.
You know who I admire? The single mom who is raising an autistic young man and another son and will do whatever she can to help them become valuable members of society, regardless of what she has to sacrifice for them to get there. I admire the man who has endured much in silence and works in the shadows developing young basketball players as people through his caring and at great cost to himself.
I have received some shiny gifts over the years, but at risk of sounding unappreciative, not one of them make the list of what I am thankful for today. That list is mostly comprised of my family, friends, clients, serendipity, and the hardships I have gone through.
Please take time to give thanks today, but also remember it’s not what you do on gameday or holidays that makes you who you are, it’s what you do today and each day after today. Make it a great Thanksgiving!
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