When Thanksgiving rolls around each year, millions of people across the United States gather to enjoy a yummy feast and dedicate time to appreciating what they're thankful for. At times like this, it's rare for someone to appreciate a difficult or painful experience.
After all, thankfulness and the sweet things in life fit together like warm rolls and butter. It seems counterintuitive to give thanks for the lumps life dumps in our gravy. Indeed, the first time many of us run across the notion that to make the most of your time on earth it's not just useful, but imperative to appreciate all of your experiences—the savory, the bland and the bitter—it doesn't seem palatable. But it's similar to realizing you can learn from your mistakes and hardships—an idea I expect most of us can agree on.
In his remarks upon retiring from the San Francisco Giants this month, Buster Posey mentioned how the hard times aren't fun to experience, but when you look back, they're times from which you've learned the most. Poised at the microphone that day, he appeared to be truly grateful for the challenging times peppered with the good.
But that idea isn't new. Saint Paul advised early Christians to always give thanks for everything—no matter the circumstances. In the Jewish tradition, thankfulness for everything is also considered fitting because all things come from God, whom they praise in prayers when receiving both good and bad news.
And an article on beliefnet noted that Sufism devotes entire book chapters to developing gratitude, stating, "Different stages of gratitude are explained: the first is gratitude for the gifts received from God, as we would be grateful for any gift; a higher state is attained when one becomes grateful for not receiving gifts or for being delayed in having a hope fulfilled. In this state one sees the blessings that are veiled in affliction."
Contemporary culture is replete with examples of this, too. For instance, self-help author Melodie Beattie wrote, "Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend."
The saying that when life hands you lemons, make lemonade comes to mind. Did you know the genesis for this popular saying was a 1915 obituary penned by writer Elbert Hubbard for dwarf actor Marshall Pinkney Wilder? "His was a sound mind in an unsound body," Hubbard wrote. "He proved the eternal paradox of things. He cashed in on his disabilities. He picked up the lemons that Fate had sent him and started a lemonade-stand."
So I hope abundance and good times are in store for you this year, but if something goes sour, I hope you can uncover hidden blessings in that, too.
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