Thanksgiving means something different to everyone. For some, it’s all about holiday feasting. Turkey with dressing. Sweet potato pie. For others, it’s the treasure of being together with family and friends. But giving thanks is more than just expressing gratitude or feeling grateful. Real thanksgiving goes beyond that. What you do to express your gratitude for all you have is what really matters. It matters not only for your overall attitude, but also for your spiritual and character growth.
The Gratitude Connection
One of the pioneers studying character disturbance made an interesting observation. Folks with significant character disturbances came from all backgrounds. Some experienced early trauma. But others came from remarkably benign backgrounds. Some were impoverished in many ways. However, others were products of privilege. But one thing they all had in common was a disturbing attitude. The world owed them, they felt. And they owed nothing back. For them, life was all about taking what they could get. And sometimes it was an additional kick to take nefariously. They had no sense of obligation – to anyone or anything. And that, in a nutshell, lay at the core of their character dysfunction.
When it comes to having integrity of character, it all begins with gratitude. Appreciating the precious gift of life itself comes first, of course. Gratitude inherently inspires a sense of indebtedness. And that indebtedness inevitably inspires us to give back and not just take. So, real thanksgiving is not so much about feeling grateful. And it goes beyond expressing gratitude. It’s more about showing it by doing our part to make the whole enterprise work. (See, also: pp. 140-148 in Character Disturbance.) (And see the series on the 10 Commandments of Character beginning with Character’s First Commandment: It’s Not All About You.)
A Year of Miracles
I have much to be grateful for. But this year has brought some really special blessings. I’ve gotten to work with more folks than ever (in workshops and in individual consultations via videoconferencing). It’s such a joy to help folks navigate the seas of character dysfunction and empower themselves! But it’s been an even bigger joy to have more folks than ever who made the decision to overcome their character shortcomings seek counsel. Helping folks turn their lives around has been one of my greatest joys in life.
I thank God for my life, all the wonderful people and experiences that have graced my life, and taught me the valuable lessons I’ve done my best to share. My writings, workshops, consultations, and very soon, renewed Character Matters podcasts are just some of the ways I’m striving to give back. But what I’ve gotten in return only makes me realize how incredibly indebted I truly am.
I pray your holiday weekend is full of joy.