Giving Thanks

As we come upon the Thanksgiving holiday, I struggled with what to share which may offer a new set of lenses through which to look at our lives, as so many face a Thanksgiving filled with loss. We are living in a time where the good in the world is often over-shadowed by a myriad of challenges: economic upheaval – globally and personally, teen suicide, untimely deaths of beloved parents, major life- altering surgery, etc. etc.

The list is long, and familiar.

I personally have had friends in my immediate circle who have experienced every single one of these hardships in the past few months. It is often hard to see, much less count, our blessings – because the hardships appear so much larger, darker, and uglier. And, no doubt, they are at certain times.

We, as known intrinsically, have much for which to be grateful – all at varying levels and degrees. Yet, honestly, not all of us have our health or wealth or prosperity – and in many cases around the world – not even enough food, shelter or safety. So what are the universal blessings which all of us have, and for which we can all be grateful, regardless of station or status in life? I will highlight only three.

Blessing 1: Time in the Present Moment

Now is the only time we have” to quote a favorite scholar and author of mine: Elisabeth Kupler Ross. She, of course, is right. Everyone from Stephen Hawking to Eckard Tolle has made this point popular in recent years – scientifically, if not spiritually. Yet, so many of us continue to plan for the future or live in the past, with only lukewarm attention to the moment we are in right now. Many of us put our life on hold – waiting for ‘something’ or ‘someone’ to enter (then ‘real life’ will begin).

Well, as the old cliché goes – Life is what happens when we are planning our life.

Not to say we shouldn’t plan – that is a given reality. We have to prepare for the expected and the unexpected. However, what we have is right now … nothing else, NOTHING else is guaranteed. Whatever you are doing at this moment while reading this blog … drinking coffee, multi-tasking, getting through email … is the gift. Gosh, that will do it to us, won’t it? The mundane moments go by so fast and so ‘routinely’ we forget that they are what make it all worthwhile.

That is it. Each moment is unequivocally a gift – a gift. It is not guaranteed.

Many don’t fully realize this until the moments are ‘finite in scope,’ death is within sight, and they are ‘on the edge.’ The moments become more potent, more precious, a treasured commodity. What are we waiting for?! It is our choice to live each and every single day ‘as if it were our last.’ Well, as Sharon Stone told Oprah (she did almost die and faced death from an aneurysm) “Death is close.” Thus, in my mind, every single moment is a Gift to be here, to live, to think, to taste, to see, to smell, to feel, to contribute.

So what are we waiting for? Let’s try to ‘take in’ a walk when we get home and peer up at the moon or listen as our parents or our children share special memories or experiences with us or reach out to the person in our offices that is struggling with a situation for which we have experience or simply savor a Pinot Noir with our turkey and dressing next week. We will reap fulfillment from the heart and by ‘drinking it in’ be enriched even further … I am 100% convinced.

Blessing 2: The Ability to Give Love

It doesn’t get much better than giving to another – whatever form that may take. I am not speaking solely of the romantic type of love (though, that is pretty fabulous, too); yet, of ‘agape’ love. The love that shows up when, for example, a person rescues a lost puppy from a field in west Texas and adopts it as their own, or the woman, earlier this month, who made national headlines by bailing out a stranger whose house was being foreclosed upon only ‘because the women was in need’ or the type of love that reveals itself when a group of business leaders rally behind an associate suffering from inoperable cancer. We see this sort of ‘love’ daily – if we keep our eyes open.

Unconditional. Without expectation. With full acceptance. Without judgment.

Notice, I didn’t say ‘receive love.’ Though, this is indeed a gift, too; not all have been blessed with this. I would love to believe that all living beings have been given this … though that is not necessarily the reality. What I do know – is that all of us have the ability to GIVE love. By that truth, if we all embrace that opportunity of ‘giving,’ it is my personal hope that we will all ‘receive’ love at some point.

As the holidays approach, at the risk of sounding a bit “woo woo,”  I personally am going to try to fully integrate this thought into my life. Not just with and to my friends and family, but with strangers. You know, the ones in the airport that want to stand right in front of the luggage turnstile as you try to get your luggage or the one that is trying to take your job through underhanded tactics or the one that is only 50% truthful in an exchange – professionally or personally.

How we deal with these situations will be our choice. I am suggesting an approach that chooses ‘love’ and patience – before we fly off the handle. Not an easy choice, yet, one that will lead to a calm, centered approach to our lives.

Personally, I’m going to really give it a try – and I hope you will help me! If we all pull together, perhaps airports, highways, grocery stores, board rooms, team meetings and office water coolers will be kinder places over the coming months.

What a kick it could be to actually help the person get his/her luggage off the rack at the airport or help the person who is trying to get your job get the job they really want or are qualified for! That would certainly surprise many – and set the bar at a different level.

Giving love is a blessing we all have. We can choose to fully unwrap it and enjoy it (or not).

Blessing 3: Lessons to Learn

In some ways, this is the hardest ‘blessing’ to explain. They most often don’t show up as gifts. They show up as hardships, losses, illnesses, set-backs and are just that – lessons. Not ones we necessarily want to learn or ones we think we need to learn. Perhaps we are not even the ones learning them, we are the ones teaching others through how we handle the situation and interact with others through the situation. I have personally learned exponentially more through my hardships (valleys) than I ever learned through my highlights (hills). Correspondingly, I have learned much more through family, friends, acquaintances, and even strangers, who have handled death, illness, bankruptcy, loss of home, loss of parents, and children with grace, strength, courage, resolve, and stalwart love of life. They were and are my teachers.

We are no doubt in earth school. We are here to learn lessons. These lessons are often the firestorms in life – and they burn into us what we become….brilliant beings of light and love. What a blessing we have all been given. We can choose to go to ‘school’ and learn lessons (or not).

Final pointmany of you may wonder what this blog has to do with ‘alignment’ or business, well everything.

Without awareness and gratitude for our gifts, we miss the richness of what life has to offer and the opportunities we have for giving back. This manifests in all forms, most pertinently perhaps in business – where we spend a majority of our lives!

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, may we all realize and be grateful for the blessings we all have:

Treasuring the ‘here and now’ and appreciating and contributing in every single moment we have while here,

Loving openly and freely with no boundaries, judgment or expectation and,

Welcoming the lessons which undoubtedly come our way and give us the opportunity to grow.

Blessings Be! Our cups truly do runneth over.