In my younger days I obsessed on things I did not have, focusing both eyes on what was missing in my life. I believed I could achieve success by setting goals and then working hard to fill the voids, to reduce my deficits and ultimately to obtain more possessions.
Now I’m wiser and realize I have always been surrounded by vast abundance. Though it sounds like a cliché—especially at Thanksgiving time—I have so much to be thankful for, including the following items that are so obvious I have tended to take them for granted:
- My mom. Okay, I never took mom for granted, yet I assumed she would always be there. Just two years ago, mom sat at our Thanksgiving dinner table. She shared stories, told jokes and inquired about each of our lives. She was a great mother and I always knew that. Only since her unexpected passing, though, have I become fully aware of how thankful I am for the profound influence she had upon me and my family.
- My eyesight. I never thought much about my vision until a melanomic tumor on my retina claimed the use of my left eye. I share that information not out of self-pity—I don’t feel sorry for myself and neither should you. Quite frankly, I don’t spend much time thinking about what I’ve lost. Instead, I focus on what I still have—vision in one eye that allows me to drive, to take photographs and to enjoy the beautiful world surrounding me. For that, I am truly grateful.
- My job. Sometimes I’m tempted to wish I didn’t have to get up when my alarm sounds at 5:30 each morning. A little more sleep or a life of leisure would be great. As I’m getting ready for work, though, I give thanks that I have a job to go to. I’m even more grateful that I have a job I love, a job that allows me to make a real difference in lives of other people.
- My wife. I’ve always loved Carol and have never been unfaithful, yet during more than three decades together there have been times I didn’t fully appreciate her irreplaceable role in my life. As I think how empty my life would be without her, I am filled with love and gratitude for the marriage we have. As our three kids have grown up under her maternal influence, I give thanks for the mother of my children. As divorce has hit others too close to home, I give thanks for a beautiful, loving wife. I never want to take her for granted.
- Ad infinitum. The list could continue indefinitely, with family members always near the top. I’m thankful for my dad and for the daily conversations we have. I’m grateful for my son Bryan and his wife Annette, for my son Greg and my cute granddaughter Kayla, for my daughter Jennifer and her husband Nathan. I continually give thanks for extended family, both living and dead. I’m also thankful for a cornucopia of other blessings—my American freedom, my faith, my friends. The list could continue on and on ad infinitum.
Someone once told me that whatever we focus on in life expands. I once focused on things I did not have. In my mind, that list expanded and I felt impoverished. Today, though, I deliberately focus on those things I once took for granted. I’m overwhelmed with all I have to be thankful for. My thanksgiving list goes on and on ad infinitum.
What are you grateful for that you once took for granted? I’m sure your list could also continue on and on ad infinitum.