This year has surely been challenging for so many. Our weak economy has affected all of us in one way or another. Its effect on each of us has varied in terms of severity, depth and breadth. For many in our smaller community of successful executives, smart professionals and talented MBA students, this economy has had an unexpectedly strong impact. Individuals find themselves in situations they never thought possible. For many, a path that has always served them is now detoured or dead-ended. As I’ve had the honor to guide these individuals, it is clear that the impact has been deep and enduring, causing some to question fundamental life assumptions. The path has not opened way for all. But for some, who have dared to sit in their places of darkness, have been the discovery of their unique enduring quality. This quality is not necessarily about immediate application towards finding a job, but a quality that allows an individual to know their fundamental worth, regardless of who they are or what they have. When they know this quality, they are able to persevere with greater resilience. Our unique enduring quality is always with us. As Francis Bacon said, “in order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present.”
During this Thanksgiving, when there seems to be a pervasiveness of darkness, is an opportunity to find the light in our lives. To use this day to let this light shine ever so brightly. To remind us of all the goodness that is present in our lives — away from the things, the material aspects that may delude us to believe that without the stuff, life can not be lived, life can not be enjoyed. I deeply feel for all the families who are struggling to keep their home, who are figuring out how to pay the next bill. Those situations are real. Yet for this one day, this day of Thanksgiving, we have the choice to be present with all the good that does exist in our lives, right now. The people who love and care for us. The beautiful sun that rises and warms us. The joys of delight in the laughter of children. The enduring optimism of a grandmother who has lived a long and hard life, who 90 years later, still smiles at a stranger and strikes a conversation in the supermarket line, so grateful to be alive.
In order for there to be darkness, there must be light. If we attempt to focus more on the light, the goodness, the joys, we begin to give room to that reality in our lives. It’s not about “either/or”. It’s about “and”. We can diligently look for a job and take a moment to appreciate the fresh wind, the wanton laughter of our children, the kindness of another driver who lets us go first. And like magic, as we give more moments to the good, give more moments to gratitude, we may be surprised how our attitude begins to evolve. And as our attitude changes, other aspects of our lives begin to change in kind. Odd coincidences and synchronicities begin to show up. And unexpectedly, while we were enjoying the light and while we were in gratitude, that which we were seeking finally shows up.
During this Thanksgiving, find something for which you are grateful. Something within yourself. A quality of another person. Let them know. Like looking for daisies, once you find one, you just keep finding more.
I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving, one that is truly steeped in thanksgiving.