Thanksgiving? No, ThanksLIVING!
What is one of the worst habits, the one that causes disappointment, conflict, loss and dis-ease of every kind? I have recorded many cancer patients’ responses to that question. The answers range from laziness to blasphemy against God. Some speculated the worst was procrastination. Others thought it to be criticism. All good choices.
But the absolute worst habit is ingratitude—the lack of thankfulness and appreciation, our poor return for blessings and kindness received.
Concentrate on What is Right in Your Life
A woman came early to our workshop in Greenwich, Connecticut and insisted on seeing me. After a few words, it became apparent she had become a physical, emotional and spiritual wreck by dwelling on her problems. She complained about a missed cancer diagnosis, the terror of treatments, mistreatment by doctors and nurses and abandonment by family.
Finally, I got to a point where I could not take it anymore. I said, “Now that you have told me all that is wrong in your life, tell me something that is right with you.”
Almost in anger the woman declared there was nothing right with her. She was shocked that I persisted. “There are many things right,” I began. “You’re able to walk, talk, breathe, hear, taste, smell and more. You’re not bedridden. You’re not helpless. You have some degree of health because you are here today.”
I advised her, “Listen carefully today. Then go home and for the next three weeks concentrate on what is right in your life. Refuse to speak of your ills. And thank God every waking hour for your health and your blessings.” As she left, I determined to do my best to reach her.
My friend, John Robert McFarland, in his excellent book, Now That I Have Cancer, I Am Whole, gives us a penetrating insight into gratitude-based thinking:
I’m so grateful I never have bad days. I have nauseated days and frightened days. Tired days and hurting days. Long days and short days. Silent days and alone days. Mouth-sore days and diarrhea days. Rainy days and sunny days. Cold days and warm days. But no bad days. I’m so grateful.
McFarland is teaching us that one simple concept can get us through the most difficult times. It’s gratitude. It’s living thankfully each and every day.
I credit thankful living as a central component of my cancer recovery. Early on, I resolved to show appreciation in both word and deed. In fact, my posture, my walk, even my facial expressions and gestures took on a whole new positive appearance.
I asked myself, “How can I best express gratitude?” I started by expressing appreciation to my wife for her love and support. I thanked her for always starting our days with a hug and a kiss. I said thanks for changing the way we eat so we could shift to a more vegetarian diet.
My expressions were true gratitude, not flattery. The difference? One is sincere, the other insincere. Dale Carnegie made the distinction succinctly: “One comes from the heart out; the other from the teeth out.”
I continued this gratitude work in all the key areas of my life - my health, my career, my finances, my relationships and especially in my spiritual walk. I thanked God for being the Source of all that is good, the only One capable of giving the extraordinary gift of another day.
The more I contemplated my blessings, the more I felt a sweeping uplift in my physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. What was happening? I was changing my mindset and ThanksLIVING was changing my entire being.
Affirm the Good in Your Life
The woman from Greenwich whom I challenged wrote to me some months later following my admonishment: “It’s been a year now since my last treatment. I just came through my checkup with flying colors. You were right. There’s a lot to be grateful for.”
It’s not that I was right; it’s that she was right. She was right in focusing on being grateful.
ThanksLIVING. Commit to it for a week, a day, even just an hour. Observe the results. You will be amazed at the changes in your outlook, your health, your relationships, and your entire life.
Affirm the good in life. Exude gratitude. Happy ThanksLIVING!
Greg Anderson, President & CEO