With Thanksgiving - Derek Oaks

With Thanksgiving

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I’ve listened to the back and forth about the truth about the Pilgrims, Thanksgiving, what they really ate, and whether or not they had a celebration with the local Native Americans. Frankly, I really don’t care. I’m sure that there was some level of backbiting, conflict and greed during these first few years of the Massachusetts settlement. Normal life, with all of its comforts and opportunities, still has much of the same conflict, problems, and misunderstandings. Throw in starvation, a new land, separation from their former lands, customs, and expectations, and I’m sure each of those things were amplified, manifest to some degree among even the kindest of people. It is easy to apply my 21st Century wisdom while I sit in my warm home, sipping a hot drink with a full stomach, to a people who never knew even a portion of the comforts I have daily. What I care about is the message in the name, the day when we commemorate their lives and everything we’ve been given. I care about whether or not I show true Thanksgiving for what I have.

I cannot remember a time when my mother did not correct me if I did not say thank you for literally anything that I received. I remember getting things taken away that were not received with an appropriate level of at least verbal gratitude. My parents tried to teach me manners, but more than manners, they taught me the true attitude of happiness.

It is impossible to be happy without a recognition of what we have, and an attitude of thankfulness towards literally EVERYTHING. Without gratitude and thanksgiving, and a mindset that is quick to thank and be grateful for everything, we will often miss the great things that fil our lives, and in missing them, lean towards unhappiness and dissatisfaction. I know this is true.

When we ‘expect’ things, receiving them brings no satisfaction, and a lack thereof brings disappointment and unhappiness. When we feel we deserve anything, even what we ‘earn’, the efforts of others to deliver them to us will always fall short. When we see ourselves as more important than others, we come to expect that others mere existence is for our well-being. When we focus on what others have instead of what surrounds us, we become numb to the great things in our lives.

Even hardships and challenges, while foolish to seek (they will find you), give cause for gratitude. Greatness never emerged from comfort and ease. Wisdom never came from the easy route. Experience and skill comes only from practice, exposure, and struggle.

I am grateful. Grateful for an awesome family. Grateful for doctors who spend thousands of hours perfecting a craft to make the impossible simple. Grateful for flight. Grateful for parents who taught me to say, ‘thank you’. Grateful for artists who enhance and create beauty around us. Grateful for God, the creator of it all.

The first step in finding success, happiness, and satisfaction in life is a simple, grateful approach to everything. Your instinctive response to anything has to be one of gratitude. As such, the likelihood of seeing and appreciating all that we’ve been given is much better. As we see the kindness, beauty, and good around us, happiness is sure to follow.

Happy Thanksgiving. May you all live your lives with thanksgiving, and find the happiness that is there for each of you.

Derek Oaks

November 2017

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