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NEWS | Nov. 2, 2010

Thanksgiving, An "Attitude of Gratitude"

By Gary Bertsch 11th Wing Chaplaincy

Shortly, we will be celebrating the Thanksgiving holidays across the nation. I'd like to share with you a few thoughts about having a proper attitude. I'd like to start with this short story.

There is a fable told about a far-off land which was ruled by a tyrant. The tyrant had an ironclad grip over all parts of his kingdom, except for one frustrating area; he was unable to destroy the people's belief in God. He summoned his counselors and raised the question to them, "Where can I hide God so that the people will end up forgetting him?"

One counselor suggested that God be hidden on the dark side of the moon. This proposal was debated for some time, but voted down because it was believed that one day scientists would discover a means of space travel and God would end being found again.

Another advisor to the tyrant came up with idea of burying God beneath the depths of the ocean floor. This was voted down for basically the same reason - it was felt that scientific advancement would lead to the discovery of God even beneath the depths of the ocean floor.

Finally the oldest and wisest of the counselors had a flash of insight. "I know," he said, "Why don't we hide God where no one will ever think of finding him?" He explained, "If we hide God in the ordinary events of people's everyday lives they'll never find him."

And so it was done - and they say that people are still looking for God - even today.

Fortunately, Thanksgiving is that time in which we spend extra time looking for God and even discovering God in the everyday aspects of life. This is good because it encourages us to discover the transforming power an attitude of thanksgiving can have in our daily life.

Family researches have determined that one of the most important qualities which make for a strong family and relationship is an attitude of appreciation. Families and couples who fostered this quality rated higher satisfaction in their families and found their marriages and relationships to be better able to weather life's storms. Families that are strong are strong in part, because family members express to each other their appreciation for what the other members do and for who they are.

In a similar study, another researcher looked into the effect of praise in the workplace. His study showed that the ratio of praise to criticism in the workplace needs to be four to one before employees feel that there is a balance and feel good about their work and about the environment in which they work.

That is pretty staggering information - information which tells us if we want to do something good, if we want to have a healthy family, a strong workplace, or any other effective group, we need to be sure that appreciation, praise, and thanksgiving are heard at least four times as often as is criticism.

In my counseling, I often tell couples that actions sometimes have to precede feelings. That is sometimes I don't feel like being loving etc. But if I act in a loving way, very often feelings of love will grow and follow. So I often have couples do various "homework" assignments that foster this attitude of thanksgiving.

God asks for our thanksgiving, whether we feel like it or not. Not that God needs it, but those around us most certainly do. So I challenge you this Thanksgiving season, look around, find that which is good and thank God for it. Find that which may be a challenge, and thank God for it. Because God is hidden in the ordinary routines of life, and our "attitude of gratitude" will help bring God's love and mercy to sight and in doing so, we bring that to others and the world around us. So thanks be to God! And remember our deployed members this season as well.