The Thankfulness Equation

Good morning from Westminster, MD!

Why does it seem that thankfulness is becoming less and less prevalent in our world today? Could the formula be the problem?

Pre-Algebra. I actually took the class twice in middle school. Let’s just say I was well prepared for Algebra 1 when I entered high school. My issue was not so much in the area of understanding, but rather in realm of paying attention. Algebra requires you to know which formula to use when and how to execute the formula once you choose it. If you lose sight of the formula and its proper execution Algebra becomes almost impossible to grasp. Trust me, I know.

What if thankfulness is much like Algebra? What if mixing up the formula and its execution makes thankfulness almost impossible to grasp? This is a thought that has been running through my head as we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving in the United States on Thursday.

We often think of thankfulness as an outcome produced by circumstances or material possessions. However, I have not found that to be true, at least in the long term. I have seen many people in enviable circumstances and with an abundance of material possessions, but yet a complete lack of thankfulness or the joy it produces. One of those people is me at times. Despite the incredible blessings in my life, I can easily find myself drifting into a state of apathy and indifference.

On the contrary, I have spent time with people both in Nicaragua and the United States who are going through incredibly difficult circumstances and, in some cases, with little or no material possessions to ease their pain, and yet their heart overflows with thankfulness. It is not to say that they are thankful for the circumstances or the lack of possessions, but rather that they have discovered thankfulness that rises above their current reality. They are operating with a different formula.

What if the formula for thankfulness starts with a choice. A choice to be thankful, not borne out of out material possessions or circumstances, but rather out of a knowledge that the it is a better way of living. Maybe it starts with finding something small such the air you are breathing or the cup of coffee you are drinking and choosing to be thankful in that moment, even if it feels unnatural. Maybe it starts with waking up in the morning and making a conscious decision to live life through the lens of thankfulness instead of cynicism. Maybe it starts with a choice.

I am going to give it a shot this Thanksgiving. Instead of waiting to feel thankful I am going to choose to be thankful and believe that the equation might just equal thankfulness in the end. I hope you will consider doing to same, wherever you find yourself today. Maybe the equation for thankfulness starts with a choice.

Happy Thanksgiving!

– James Belt

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