Don Miller | Thanksgiving 2022: Gratitude is not a platitude; it’s a confirmation – Santa Cruz Sentinel

I’m not sure how many years I’ve written a Thanksgiving column—it’s many—that encourages readers to say thank you, even under difficult, sometimes mysterious, and often troubling circumstances.

A friend recently told me that reading the column every Thanksgiving is like eating a huge meal that day. It feels satisfying – but why am I so sleepy afterwards?

comfort food. In other words, a bunch of fine-sounding words and thoughts with little relation to the daily difficulties we all face.

Then again, the first person who needs that repeated encouragement to be grateful is…me. I will be there again in 2022.

You may not find a way out of trouble either. Maybe it’s an illness. Or a wayward son or daughter. Or financial problems. Divorce. Seeks. Racism. Intolerance.

Sure, some things seem better. Personally, I’ve been boosted on the COVID-19 vaccine several times (I started counting slowly) and started reconnecting with the outside world around this time last year.

We have family and friends in Hawaii so we visit them frequently and last spring took a slightly longer trip to Israel which resulted in many in our group (all vaccinated) catching COVID and being quarantined as Muslims in a hotel room in Jerusalem The holy month of Ramadan began to be experienced in the old city.

Getting sick and being isolated for days was uncomfortable and irritating at the time, but what happened there has become unforgettable in retrospect, forging our group together and allowing for a deeper and focused look at the ancient truths and struggles in which we are found Israel. In other words, what happened was something to be thankful for.

Yes, the world and the struggles of our individual lives create uneasiness that can settle like a damp mist in our mind and soul. Events and life itself can seem moody and unfair. Even a seemingly innocuous holiday like Thanksgiving is viewed by some as yet another example of oppression, colonialism, and racial injustice.

And if politics and social media chatter aren’t enough to keep me on my toes, there’s always climate change. Or homelessness. Crime. The scourge of gun violence. cost of living and inflation.

Wipe it all away, you might say, then ask me for gratitude.

So it’s understandable why a statement like “always be thankful” can come off as an empty platitude.
We know that life, in its deep falls and even its heady ascents, was forever like that, generations upon generations, but with a cloud of witnesses who – amidst persecution and oppression, plague, political misconduct, violence and grief, and unfathomable evil – held on to their beliefs and chose to be thankful that something better was to come, something unshakable.

How are we supposed to live?

It is no coincidence that people who are showered with material blessings, or who are gifted with physical beauty, superior talents, or even great intelligence, tend to remain unsatisfied.

never rich enough never be young again Never really appreciated.

But grateful people have often suffered losses or failed in their youthful dreams. But they understand the world as it is and remain humbled by their own character flaws and flaws.

We too can make this choice and express our gratitude.

Don’t take my word for it. Researchers have shown that exercising the free choice of gratitude replaces our anxiety and fear and brings health benefits including better stress management, better sleep, greater levels of love for others, and, yes, a sense of inner peace.

Gratitude can pull us back off the cliff of despair and hopelessness and is transformative during inevitable difficult times. Gratitude as a daily attitude makes me less consumed by possessions, more willing to help others, and more spiritually aware. It distracts my gaze from the irretrievable past and leaves me in the unfolding reality of the present, where I look forward with hope.

I can take my journey through the valley of loss as an opportunity to choose to be grateful. And when I make that choice, I no longer let what others have and what I don’t consume me—or resentment, fear, or anxiety—and wait for my thinking to be turned upside down.

There is a spiritual principle at work: in everything give thanks. For Christians, this is not optional. The apostle Paul writes in the first book of Thessalonians (5:18): “In all circumstances give thanks, for this is God’s will for you…”

Gratitude in the face of inevitable difficulties, then, means, “I choose to trust rather than fear.”
This is radical gratitude that says “yes” instead of “no,” inviting me to share the promise with others, and unlocking inner freedom, peace, and the strength to overcome the obsessions I need to reach for more for myself.

It’s counterintuitive and the opposite of confidence.

Gratitude often requires action and can lead us to serve others.

Keeping a gratitude journal can be helpful. The discipline of regularly writing down events and encounters in the Prism of Gratitude will bring remarkable changes that others will notice.

Consider starting each day with a list of things to be thankful for. Here’s a sample list: Family and Friends.

Someone we love or who loves us. For medical personnel and first responders. For the freedom of expression that we enjoy.

For living in a beautiful place with the often unspeakable calm that sets in when a red-blue sky embraces the loneliness of a November evening… and the gentle horizon slowly fades.

The certainty of the next sunrise.

Yes, for the promise of eternity.

For forgiveness. For grace.

Why shouldn’t I be thankful?

Don Miller is Opinion Editor for the Santa Cruz Sentinel and a former editor of the Sentinel and Monterey Herald.


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