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  • Football, Bruises and a lot of Thanks!


    Posted by Doug in embracing a winning attitude

    This picture is from my family’s first annual turkey bowl game played in my back yard this past Thanksgiving. The game ended in a tie. Despite a few hard hits and a few bruises everyone had a great time.

    At our Hedrick Thanksgiving dinner 2007 I instituted a new practice of putting everyone’s name in the hat (adults and children) and then passing the hat around so everyone could pick a name. Once a name was picked each person would say something they were thankful for about that person. I didn’t know how it would go over but once it got started I knew I had started something special. There were a few tears and a few choked up moments but it became a very special moment for everyone to share. Why? Because it allowed everyone an opportunity to hear something special about each person in the room and it allowed the person saying something they were thankful for an opportunity to get their minds in the right frame of mind and practice something that will move them down the road to living a life worth living.

    This is the time of year when most people are reminded about the importance of being thankful. As a father of three young children, I am probably more conscious of this issue because raising children in today’s often thankless and “self” centered culture is a tremendous challenge, especially for parents who try to teach the importance of being thankful. Now with Christmas right around the corner, the pressure of buying gifts for people who aren’t very thankful in the first place is not very appealing.

    My encouragement is that if you want to start living a life worth living, then embracing a winning attitude is a must. You can start doing this by a daily habit of being thankful. Because the more you do, the more you will be able to manage (i.e. in your mind) life’s ups and downs. Here are a few keys to remember about the importance of being thankful:

    1. Being thankful (or rather lack of) reveals “growth areas”

    If you’ve ever been around someone who is not very thankful you know that this is not an admirable quality. If you or someone you know is not very thankful (e.g. not saying thank you when a gift is received or when someone holds the door open to enter a restaurant), this usually means there is a bigger issue that needs to be addressed—for example a growth in one’s character. This is usually the type of person who operates with a frame of mind that the world does or should operate around them. Whether spoken or not, this is usually their perspective on how life should operate. So the good news is that we can better determine “growth areas” (particularly in our children) by whether someone’s life is characterized by being thankful. Remember, we are not born into this world to serve ourselves; rather we were born to serve others.

    2. Being thankful reinforces good behavior

    When I first suggested the idea of passing the hat around I had a few people (particularly a few of the kids) not very excited about the idea. But after it got going, their thoughts about this new practice slowly started to change. Why? Because they saw the smiles and joy it brought the people who received and who were expressing their thanks. If you’ve ever been part of an organized sports team, you know that a good coach prepares his team for a successful season by practicing the right way of how to do something (e.g. tackling, shooting, and pitching) over and over again. Practicing something the right way teaches good behavior (the type a coach wants to see) and in time becomes a normal and natural response. If any member of a team can respond to any given situation on a playing field in the right way, naturally without thought, the coach has done their job. This is the same for being thankful. Daily practice of being thankful teaches good behavior and time it will come naturally without thought. One suggestion is to make it your goal to personally thank 3 people a day. It could be your children, neighbor, family member, co-worker, spouse, pastor or boss. If you aren’t able to do three start with one. The key is not the number but rather the daily practice of training yourself with a consistent behavior of doing the right thing. In time this will become a natural and normal response.

    3. Being thankful re-focuses our perspective

    It’s too easy to take the abundance of what we have in this country for granted. If you’ve ever traveled abroad you quickly learn how blessed we are in the United States. I especially saw this from my time in Iraq.  Having seen young kids walking along the road with bare feet amidst trash, broken glass and sewage, I was quickly reminded how fortunate we are in the United States. I think about all the toys being purchased this month totaling billions of dollars and then in a couple of months those same toys are often discarded for what is described as the newest “must have” toy. With this in mind, being thankful is especially important because it helps us become more appreciative of what we do have rather than always focusing on what we “think” we need. Becoming a thankful person helps us better appreciate what we already have and it helps us be more appreciative of those who give us so much (e.g. God, parents, family, co-workers, boss, neighbors, friends….etc). The Bible says to “be thankful in all circumstances.” This is not always easy to accomplish but it has proven for me to be the best choice for being able to have a winning attitude that allows me to most effectively manage (in my mind) life’s ups and downs.

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