"You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me."

-C.S. Lewis

What we read has such an impact on us, and I am always on the lookout for something that will inspire me to be a better person. Here is a sampling of books that have been in the teetering stack sitting on top of what is rumored to be my bedside table.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Call to Give Thanks

I have been blessed with so much this year - more than I can write in this forum, in fact. And so, I am choosing one thing to share that I know has been bothering many of us, especially those of us who work with children. It's that entitlement society that we all fear.

This year, I have had the privilege of leading my daughter and my niece through a Girl Scout project about protecting the planet's water. I watched these two darling Brownies as they explored the sad truth that so many children around our world must spend the majority of their days searching for enough water for their familes to drink.  And even though my sister-in-law and I have done everything we can to raise these girls outside the realms of entitlement, the thought that we need to be thankful for tap water boggled their little minds. It was the single most important thing they carried with them as they finished their project.

Last night, as I was purchasing my very American root beer float from Sonic, I was thinking about how many things I take for granted. At that moment, I was listening to the Focus on the Family radio broadcast, and the speaker was issuing a call to all listeners:

Each night, before you go to bed, give thanks to God for three things that you have been blessed with. And then watch your life change.

It seems too simple, too good to be true. And yet, I know that it works. Many of you know that I have clinical depression. Negative thoughts are the norm for people in my situation. But lately, when an extremely negative thought pops into my head for no reason at all, I have taken to immediately sending up a prayer of thankfulness for all my many blessings.

And you know what? The more I do this, those blessings are pushing the negative thoughts out of my head. I am learning to enjoy life for what it is, not for what I want it to be.  I am less and less plagued by unwelcome thoughts, simply for remembering my blessings. Who would have thought that something so easy could be so effective? Whole books have been written on escaping negative thoughts, and all it really took was prayers of thanksgiving.

I believe I first learned from Frances Hodgson Burnett in her novel The Secret Garden that where you tend a rose, a thistle cannot grow. A nice platitude, but it's true nonetheless.

So here's my challenge for myself and for anyone who wants to take it:

Think of three things that you are thankful for, every single night. And for those of us who are teachers, perhaps we can have our students, at the close of every single day, think of three things that they are thankful for. In a public school classroom, this is easy to do without bringing in religion. No one philosophy has a monopoly on thankfulness.

How many people could we influence to bring in roses to push out the thistles?  And what effect could this have on our entitlement society, if we could teach our children how to be thankful, instead of complaining that they are not thankful enough?

As my shoes clunk on the Pergo from stepping off my soapbox, I wish each and every one of you a blessed Thanksgiving.