Yesterday I read that a survey found 45% of Americans across all income levels would rather skip “Christmas” because the holiday season simply brings too much financial pressure. Many blamed retailers for over commercializing the holiday to the point where consumers have to go into debt just to keep up with “The Joneses”!

That’s just plain sad. What’s even sadder, is blaming retailers when we should be blaming ourselves. It’s the same as blaming the government for everything that ails us as a country. Retailers are people, too, just like those in the government are people. “Things” didn’t get the way they are on their own. Rather than blaming others, instead we should look in the mirror and do a little bit of soul searching to rethink what’s most important to us.

To me, there’s no better place to start than with “gratitude.” Gratitude is being thankful for everything in your life—the big, the small, all those things in-between—and for even having a life in the first place. And what more appropriate time than Thanksgiving to tell our friends, family, co-workers, etc., that they matter? After all, being grateful is a gift that costs you nothing, but is priceless.

German theologian and philosopher Meister Eckhart once wrote, “If the only prayer you say in your life is ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” So “thank you” my friends, one and all. I am grateful you are part of my life. In the spirit of gratitude, I invite you to enjoy my blog from last Thanksgiving.

 A Winning Combination: Gratitude and Service to Others
(Originally published November 22, 2011)

This time of year people tend to get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays that they are often unable to enjoy them. Are you one of these people? How about switching things up this year?

As a starter, I invite you to hop off the post-Halloween holiday treadmill, take a deep breath, consider those things in life for which you are grateful, and ask how you could better serve others.

I always start by acknowledging how grateful I am to be alive, knowing how quickly one’s hold on life and good health can change. Of course, I could then think about how my Mom and Dad are not with me, that my sister and niece have long since left me, that my start-up company and dreams were destroyed by corporate America, or how hard the recession has hit my pocket book and let such reflection get me down . . . but I choose not to. I choose to look at my “cup” as being half-full and, what’s more, as being twice too big to begin with!

Here are some of the things for which I am most grateful . . .

  • Being born and raised in the God-blessed USA
  • A roof over my head
  • Food on the table
  • Credit cards with revolving balances
  • Clothes on my back
  • Having family and friends who love me
  • Knowing love
  • Laughter
  • A positive outlook
  • Strong faith
  • Being able to fit into size 34-inch jeans
  • My surgically repaired shoulder being better
  • Being able to walk, smell, and see the glories around us
  • Being well-educated.

The bottom line is we all want to matter in this world. We all want to be significant. How we matter and how we are significant can vary. We all can’t be chiefs, and that’s OK. Sometimes we just need to embrace being servants. But whatever the role, chief or servant, we need to approach our lives with enthusiasm. I challenge you to attack life with a positive attitude. It’s a choice of attitude and perspective, which takes tremendous energy to maintain (staying enthusiastic through good times and bad is hard work!), but reaps many gifts over the long haul.

So in that vein, let’s choose to serve each other this holiday season—asking for nothing in return—and let’s do it with zeal! Giving without asking is a wonderful thing, and something for which we can all be grateful.

A good place to start is to make your own list of things for which you are grateful, and then to help others expand their lists.

For what are you most thankful? Share it here.

Happy Thanksgiving!