by Dr. Tina MarcantelThere is always something to be thankful for

A plaque hanging in my kitchen says, “There is always, always, always something to be thankful for.” A dear friend gave me the sign several years ago and it is prominently displayed in my home to remind me every day to reflect on the many blessings I have in my life. Frankly, I need that prompt sometimes because there is often so much negativity surrounding us that it’s easy to lose sight of the good. I also know that it is an “attitude of gratitude” that will give birth to the positive changes I’d like to see in my life.

Too often we think, “I’ll be thankful and at peace when such-and-such changes.” Ironically, the negative thoughts we’re harboring—fear, ingratitude, bitterness, feelings of unworthiness—may actually cause us to resist the positive changes we want. Rather than seeing thanksgiving as something to be put off until we get something in the future, try thinking of gratitude as the starting point for change.

According to the Serenity Prayer, it is acceptance that is the key to peace: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” But it is only when we can learn to be truly thankful in the midst of our circumstances that we are able to accept them and find peace. Acceptance doesn’t mean we don’t desire change; it simply means that we adjust our attitude and we allow good things to happen.

Gratitude for all the good things we have right now in our lives helps us to accept our current circumstances. Acceptance leads to peace of mind. Peace allows hope and faith to grow—an expectation of good things to come. And it is at this point of mental calm and faithful expectation that divine, creative ideas come to us that provide the means for positive change.

So how do we get started? One thing I did was to go on a diet—a news diet. I realized that it had become my habit to plop down with my supper in front of the evening news when I got home from the office. I like to be informed, but how often do we have to be bombarded with the same negative news stories? I now eat my meal in glorious silence, celebrating each crunch of the fresh lettuce and cucumbers in my salad and the sweetness of the pear and apple slices.

Other ideas might include taking an evening stroll to marvel at the beauty of the full moon, enjoying a funny movie with a loved one and appreciating the gift of laughter, or making a list of everything that is right with your life. Each person is in unique circumstances, but everyone has something to be thankful for. Most importantly, we must remember to spend more time being thankful than we do dwelling on negative thoughts and statements. Make every day of the year Thanksgiving Day and watch how your blessings multiply!