Living a Grateful Life— Reasons To Be Grateful This Year

Thanksgiving. A time for family to gather together, share a meal, and give God thanks for a fruitful harvest.  This year, my Thanksgiving was a little different than most American’s. While most everyone else was sitting down to the family dinner table, I was sitting on a runway at the Minneapolis International Airport… not moving. Waiting. Waiting for the snow crews to clear the runway, so I could join my family later that evening. I had spent the few days prior in Canada at the Canadian Western Agribition Show. Like most people who finally board the plane and fasten their seat belts, I was ready to get home. My immediate reaction to killing time while belted into the seat? Yup, you guessed it…. Facebook. I began to read all the “Thanksgiving Blessings” that each of my friends were posting, and even took the time to share mine….

My Thanksgiving Blessings— “My Why”

But why is it that we wait until November to share our reasons to be thankful?  Its like we all fixate on whats wrong in our life and fail to focus on our blessings. We go through life like a cog in a machine focusing soley on what is right in front of us, as opposed to living like the independent self functioning people we all are and choose to focus on the blessings we have both big and small. I’ll be the first to admit… there are times, I get just as bogged down by life as the next person.  As we approach the holiday season, and begin the search for our New Year’s Resolutions, maybe we should all ponder how we can shift our focus to counting our blessings the entire year, as opposed to when the annual Thanksgiving holiday rounds the corner. What about all the blessings that we fail to acknowledge? The ones that are behind the scenes that ultimately without those blessings, our life would look and feel completely different… as I waited on the runway at the Minneapolis Airport, I gave some thought to my list of “Reasons To Be Grateful All Year”

  1. I am thankful for my parents. They laid the foundation of the importance of hard work, perseverance, and having faith in God.
  2. I am thankful for love and laughter. These are two of life’s greatest gifts. The presence of those two things can make or break my day.
  3. I am thankful for all the mentors that have changed and revolutionized my life.  I am grateful they gave me the chance to work and labor in an industry that I love. It is many of their ideas and associations that showed me how to push for progress and results.
  4. I am thankful for strength and health. Health and fitness is the key to living a long and fruitful life. The absolute fountain of youth.
  5. I am thankful for having the hunger to learn, grow, and serve. It is these traits that truly permeate my soul and my life and pushes me toward progress.— Progress. Some folks perspective of being grateful is to “be content with what God has blessed us with”. My personal feeling is being grateful is so much more than that. A grateful life is a life of hope. Sometimes being grateful is more than the gifts we have already received. It is the hope, almost an expectation that things are going to get better. This alone gives us the fuel to dare and the courage to leap toward the next goal or challenge that life has presented us with. It is those things and the hope for more that gives us PROGRESS. I think about mothering Lexi. Like any parent, you want more for your child than what you had. As a result, you push and encourage your children to take a chance and push forward for whatever goals they dream of. It is the hope of what could be for them that fuels our fire. That is NOT selfish. It is learning to be thankful for what we already have, while we pursue all that we want. It is using the talents that God blessed us with so we can use our blessings to bless others. Letting those talents expire without sharing them with the world, is not living God’s will.
  6. I am thankful for the pain and problems that I have experienced in my life. It has given me the power to grow and become more than I was before. All those experiences have brought me to where I am today. Granted, when I was going through those challenges, I often asked God, “why?”. It was those troubles that opened opportunities and unique experiences to flow my way which further blessed my life. Without those troubles, I would have never known some of the talents that I had buried inside of me or what true love is all about.

Thankfulness is just the beginning to living a fulfilled life. Life isn’t always a bed of roses. There are curveballs that get thrown at you, when you least expect it. It has often been said, “It is how you handle yourself when facing adversity and the least expected that determines your character.” The following are my tips to transitioning your life to a grateful one.

  • Smile. When you face a challenge or uncontrolled circumstance, always smile and remember you can always find something worse off than you, and look for something in that challenge to be thankful for. Even the smallest thing. It might be that one thing that gives you the hope to push forward. Smiling at someone that is having a bad day, changes the tone of the encounter and even the conversation.
  • Give yourself an inner pep talk. Your inner voice is important. Often times, it is negative. Begin reminding yourself of all your great things to be thankful for and that you can accomplish anything you want, if you want it bad enough that you are willing to do what everyone else won’t do to get it.
  • When you make a mistake in life (we all know we make plenty), learn from even the smallest things. Last weekend while getting the show cattle up, we closed all the gates, but the one man gate. What happened? The heifers went straight up to the barn and past their pens and through the man gate. It was like they knew it was open. Lesson learned? Have a solid plan, before beginning the project. Building the plane in flight, gives us set backs that if we just planned and executed right the first time, we would not have wasted so much time.
  • When I start to think about all the things that I don’t have or how crappy my life is at that given moment, it is my internal clue to see how I can help or bless someone else. Try it. It changes your tone and your outlook on your own life. Something simple like holding a door for someone, buying someones coffee, or even paying a simple complement, not only makes you feel good, but could even be the highlight of someone else’s day.

As I sat on the runway in Minneapolis, and we did not take off until we were supposed to be landing in St. Louis, these thoughts flooded through my head. This new perspective has helped me in work and life. When I got off the plane, Brock met me at the gate instead of waiting in the truck in the cell phone lot. I shared with him how thoughtful that was, which made him smile. When the TSA agent was sitting all alone with a blank stare on his face as I passed by, I smiled and wished him a Happy Thanksgiving. He looked at me a little funny, and replied, “Thank you. You too, ma’am”. When my dealer called me on Monday morning, and told me to keep a grower, we had to get to $195 corn, I took a deep breath and began working on a new proposal– we hadn’t lost the sale. Sometimes being thankful and grateful requires us to appreciate the little things and its that perspective that can change our lives. Happy Holidays!