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Using Thankfulness as a Core Value this Holiday Season

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This season is all about being thankful, even when you have nothing. If your current situation doesn’t reflect the ideal person and/or life you want, it may be difficult to stay positive. However, when you look at everything you do have, as opposed to what you don’t have, you become more grateful. You’re now assessing your life on your own terms, not stacking it up against someone else.

Humans are social creatures. It is inevitable for us to compare ourselves to our neighbors or friends or relatives, but it may not be healthy. We live in an age of skewed perspectives and unrealistic expectations. Every time you turn on the TV or watch a blockbuster movie, you are seeing very fortunate people who earn millions of dollars to pretend that they are average citizens. Ponder that point for a minute. You are equating the lives of celebrities against your own. No wonder you’re not fully satisfied!

Even social media is designed to reflect an overly rosy view of life as we know it. Users post their vacation photos or milestone moments, but you don’t see them carrying out the trash when the bag suddenly breaks and strews garbage all over the carpet. That is life, and that is what we all experience… we just don’t commemorate the moment on Instagram.


Here’s an example from my early days. When I was sick, I made it my mission to enjoy the good days. After all, I didn’t know how many more of them I would have. You tend to savor small meals more than large ones because each morsel really counts. As I was battling cancer, I relished every moment. I was happy when the sun was up so I could feel its warmth on my face. Even the smell of flowers was a gift from the aromas gods.

There are thousands of little flourishes in the world that people ignore until it’s too late. When you get the chance, you should take a break from worrying about the negatives and focus on the positives. Acknowledge the wonders all around you, even if they are as mundane as the smell of your fresh-brewed coffee or the feel of a warm sweatshirt. These seemingly inconsequential elements add up to something much larger.

Using the compound effect, the “little things” in life make a tremendous difference. If you can identify 15 phenomena worth celebrating, then those fab-15 will overpower the one dark cloud hanging over you. Staying positive won’t necessarily eradicate the negatives in your life, but an optimistic outlook gives you the perfect lens to see your way through the proverbial storm and emerge into a brighter tomorrow.


Nobody should fight cancer alone. I had my family by my side, even on the bad days. The Big C had me throwing up for hours on end, praying to the porcelain goddess. All that toilet time really cleared my schedule and allowed me to focus on the future. When you are as sick as a dog, you want to think beyond the misery of the present tense. The future was a blank slate. I could define it any way I wanted.

Even at such a young age, I knew I wanted values to shape my path forward. When I was struggling for my life, my cardinal value was simple but clear: living. If I could draw another breath and see another sunrise, maybe I could accomplish something amazing even further down the road.

The feeling that I got from focusing on the future was incredible. I was always grateful for how I felt, no matter what was going on, but the possibility of spending more time on this planet opened my eyes to the endless potential for more feelings to come. Even a bad day seemed like a bonus to me. Hell, any day away from my sickness was the icing on the cake in my mind.


It’s difficult to be thankful sometimes. What with the pandemic and economic concerns, we all can get swept up in the collective sadness surrounding us. But if you practice expressing gratitude on a daily basis, you will build upon a foundation of positivity. At the end of the day, just write down five things for which you’re grateful. Now that you have your list in front of you, really focus like a laser on one of them. Go into greater detail about why this facet of your life makes you so joyful. By harnessing your thankfulness, you are honing your life skills.

Being grateful for what you have forces you to tap into your core values. You jotted down five positive elements from your life without even giving them a second thought. That’s because they are always in your head, effortlessly and unwaveringly. Now that you have expressed your appreciation, you can act on it.

Focus on what means the most to you. This may not be a tangible object like your car, but rather the freedom your car allows you. A trip through the countryside, an escape to your favorite hiking spot – these are what makes life worth living.

If you want to feel incredibly wealthy, take away everything money can buy, and look at what you have left. That’s true wealth. When you immerse yourself in joy and gratitude, you can really feel rich.

In the spirit of the season, I want to express my sincere thanks for reading along and applying my musings to your life. If I have connected with you in some small way, that thrills me. Now, I have one last favor to ask: pay it forward. Express your gratitude to someone in your life. You can even forward this article along with a simple note telling your loved one that you care. Have an awesome Thanksgiving season, everybody!

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