Being Thankful in Spite of Yourself
By Rebecca Coates Nee
November 19th, 2001
I used to hate Thanksgiving. It was just another reminder
that I had no real
life outside of my job in TV news. Instead of sitting down
to a stuffed
turkey with Norman Rockwells family, I was inevitably
at a homeless shelter,
doing the obligatory story about how many needy mouths were
or were not fed
that day. My holiday lunch consisted of fast food and my dinner
no news orphans had planned a gathering was created
by the aroma of canned
One Thanksgiving, when I was feeling particularly sorry for
homeless man approached me as I waited for my photographer
to finish getting
shots of the food line.
"Why you frown?" he asked me. "Because Im
working again on a holiday,"
I snorted back. "At least you have a job," he said
and walked away.
At the time, his comment did nothing more than make me feel
guilty. But now,
I do recognize the pettiness of my behavior. "We are
always getting ready to
live but never really living," wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson.
"This time, like
all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with
Thats the challenge so many of us face whether
coaches or parents. How do we make the present perfect when
so much around us
doesnt seem perfect at all? Many researchers believe
most people spend 80
percent of their thoughts in the future or the past. Fear
and worry put us in
the future while guilt and regret send us back to the past.
That leaves a
measly 20 percent to enjoy the present and take advantage
of all its
The present may not seem perfect to you but it is
where youve chosen to
put yourself. Whatever your current circumstances are, take
for them. Even if we think we are victims of a tight job market,
relationship or unfair industry, most of you reading this
are where you are
because of the choices youve made. That doesnt
mean our choices always
turn out the way we hoped, but our most valuable lessons are
when things dont go as planned.
For example, if youre discouraged because you cant
get a job in a bigger
market, you may develop a resentful attitude about where you
are today. With
that kind of an attitude, how can you possibly attract a prospective
or put together stories good enough to get you where you think
you want to be?
Figure out where you would like to be five years from now.
Then decide what
kind of a person you need to be to get there. Become that
person now. Dont
wait for the perfect opportunities to fall in your lap. We
high-quality life by living one, not by waiting for it to
Ask yourself what IS perfect about today (even if youre
doing the shelter
story on Thanksgiving). Then ask what isnt perfect yet
and decide what
youre willing to do to make it that way. Most importantly,
ask yourself how
you can have fun along the way.
If you approach each day the way my kitten does full
of energy, inspiration
and curiosity about the world around you, youll understand
that the present
is indeed a gift.