While, for many people, Thanksgiving means family and friends and turkey and stuffing and stuffing ourselves, the holiday also means giving thanks.
This weekend, take a second to be thankful for a few things you might not have thought were blessings:
1. Failure — For most of us, failure isn’t the end of the world. Failure is just the end of an idea, a possibility or a dream. When we fail, we can move on to something else, hopefully a little wiser and more likely to succeed.
For some, though, failure means going without … and worse, possibly forcing their children to go without.
Failure stinks, but never being able to take a chance on your skills, your experience and your vision is much worse.
Be thankful you have the opportunity to fail on terms you, at least partly, set. Many people do not have the chance.
2. Criticism — People criticize when they care. While people still care about you or your business, you have the opportunity to do something better, to do something differently, to change their minds … or to just meet in the middle.
Apathy is much worse.
3. Sadness — When you’re sad … that means you care, and caring is the impetus for change.
Apathy is much worse.
4. Respect — Think of people you admire. Think of people who have earned your trust and esteem.
Be thankful that those people are a part of your life.
In fact, don’t just be thankful privately: Tell them how you feel.
That will make them grateful for people like you.
5. Options — You might have so many options and potential choices that you feel stressed and overwhelmed.
Flip it around: Imagine how it would feel to have few, if any, options. Imagine how it would feel to have few, if any, viable choices.
Be thankful you have options — the more, the better.
6. Struggle — Not unintentional struggle, intentional struggle: Such as choosing to work incredibly hard or to push through a mental or physical barrier or to make sacrifices for the good of others.
When we struggle and fight and endure, we not only stretch the limits of what we believe we’re capable of; we sometimes enter a state of grace that we only find when we strip away what is truly non-essential (which turns out to be most of what we worry about).
Struggling helps you learn who you really are — and who you really want to be.
7. Delay — Remaining patient is rarely fun, but having to wait can be a good thing.
For example, research shows that where vacations are concerned, the biggest boost in happiness comes from planning the vacation. Vacation anticipation boosted happiness for an average of eight weeks.
After the vacation, though, happiness levels quickly dropped to baseline levels — usually within days. Soon, vacation-goers were no happier than those who had stayed home.
Be thankful you need to wait — especially for something you really want. The anticipation alone is worth it.
Besides, waiting for what you want — not what you need — is a luxury only those who are already blessed can afford.
8. Regret — Think about something you wish you had done better. Or handled differently. Or think about something you wish you had done … but for whatever reason, you didn’t.
Painful? Sure. But motivating.
Use that motivation today. Call a friend you’ve lost touch with. Mend fences with a family member. Be the bigger person and say you’re sorry. Do something you wish you had done.
You’ll be thankful you did.
9. Family — Take a look around the table. I know: Uncle Johnny is overbearing, Aunt Shirley can’t stay out of anyone’s business, your brother resents you and your sister won’t speak to you.
Sure, sometimes they can be terrible … and you’ll miss them terribly when they’re gone. Smile, see the good in each of them and be glad you have a family.
Many people would love to have a terrible family like yours.
10. This moment — Because you have the time and resources to do something like read this … that means you have time: To improve yourself, to consider new ideas, to try to be a better person, to build better relationships with family and friends.
Time is our most important asset and what we should all be most thankful for. Time makes everything else possible.
Don’t waste it.
Jeff Haden lives in Harrisonburg, he is a ghostwriter and featured business columnist for Inc.com. He can be reached at www.blackbirdinc.com.