Don’t Be Fearful, Be Thankful
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday: here’s why.
All joking aside, the major reason I enjoy Thanksgiving is that there is only one obligation. My only obligation on Thanksgiving Day is to sincerely give Thanks.
I’ll skip the usual cliché about Thanksgiving being a day to really take stock of all we have and for expressing appreciation for all our blessings. I’ll cut right to why we should be Thankful; whether you think you’re blessed or not!
I’m sure most of us can find plenty of reasons to complain right now. I’m sure plenty of people are facing genuine adversity. Real life is full of challenges…
Are you now, or have you ever been truly fearful of what life might bring today? Have you ever worried about the next car payment or mortgage? Have you been afraid about how to send your kids to college? Have you ever experienced real fear about a real or even potential health issue? Are you worried about the price of heating your home this winter?
There’s nothing wrong with fear. Courage isn’t the absence of fear; the absence of fear is stupidity! Fear is a pure physiological response to danger. However, when fears “fill” our lives and we become “fear-full”, we become trapped in a whirlpool of self-defeat and self-propagating negativity.
I said that courage is not the absence of fear; courage is acting in the face of fear. As trite as this might sound, the only way to stop this cycle before life becomes fearful is to take action. In order to take positive action you’re going to have to start with some grain of positive thought and self-belief.
Many people crap on the “positive thinking” element of this argument: before we go any further I will tell you from my own experience; positive thought is not a by-product of good things happening, it is the most essential component of positive action. When you’re wallowing in the gutter of negativity and self-loathing you do nothing but justify your present condition and you justify complacency.
I’m absolutely done with negative people. Negativity is the most destructive contagious disease in the world. I am, however, a healthy skeptic. I know that it’s hard work to develop and maintain a positive attitude. I know it’s hard to take action in the face of adversity. I learned this lesson from real life, and I practiced my response through my life as a martial artist. When I get knocked down, and that’s happened plenty of times (and I expect a few more!), I get up. Knock me down again, and I’m going to get up again. Knock me down and you better be prepared for a fight!
The good news is this…
There are two proven methods you can use, right now, to change your thinking and to change your life. They’re both painfully simple and obvious. The lesser method first:
Fear your fears more than you fear the action you know you have to take. Churchill was right; ultimately fear is what we should really be afraid of! Let’s say you have real fear over how to pay the mortgage: be more afraid of sitting on your ass. Defeat the fear by literally forcing yourself to look for some possibility open to you. The more possibility you can see, the greater your probability of success.
Now for the greatest single method for changing any negativity into positive thoughts and action:
And I give you this method from the heart of the “No Bulls*#t” Zone.” You may have a hundred genuine reasons to be fearful, pissed off, discouraged or defeated; find ONE reason to be Thankful. You’re only going to need one; it will breed more all by itself. No matter how desperate your situation, you always has one thing to be Thankful for: you’re alive! As long as you’re drawing breath, you’ve got a genuine opportunity!
I remember watching some of the aftermath of hurricane Katrina on the news. I watched a reporter interview two people who had just been relocated to some trailers donated by a recreational vehicle company. There were a number of challenges in getting this temporary village set-up. The electric supply was low so there was enough power for lights, but not enough for air-conditioning. A local Wal-Mart store was open and donating food and essential supplies, but it was a mile from the trailers and the few shuttle buses available required a long wait on both ends.
The first person interviewed was out of her mind! This young woman was furious the lack of transportation to the store and that when she got there, the store was lacking in several items she wanted for her family. She was particularly ripped about the lack of air-conditioning in the Louisiana heat and that the trailer was too small for her and her children.
The second person interviewed was an elderly woman who had just walked to the Wal-Mart store and back in the middle of the day. The reporter, obviously moved by the first woman’s plight was very sympathetic to this older woman who walked the two-mile round trip in the heat of the day, carrying her provisions on the return leg to a small trailer without air-conditioning.
This woman responded to the reporter’s comments with a smile on her face! She thanked Wal-Mart for being so generous. She said a mile really wasn’t all that far to walk She said she was nothing but grateful for the generosity of the people who donated these beautiful, brand-new trailers. She said the lack of air-conditioning seemed like a minor inconvenience compared to the suffering of those who were still trapped in New Orleans, and those who were not lucky enough to have food and shelter yet.
Fearfulness breeds negativity, resentment, anger and complacency. Thankfulness generates positivity and possibility. Possibility increases probability. This choice is left to the person who brushes our teeth in the bathroom mirror every day.
You can choose to give Thanks, or choose to give in to fear. Choose Thanksgiving.
Have a question for Jim? Ask or leave a comment below!