Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays – it’s a great time to reflect on how fortunate we all are and how much we have to be grateful for. Whether you’re Canadian and celebrate Thanksgiving in October or American and celebrate Thanksgiving in November, we definitely have more than enough abundance on both sides of the border to be thankful long after the official holiday is over.

I am fortunate to have the opportunity to celebrate both American and Canadian Thanksgiving and over the last few months of Thanksgiving festivities and celebrations, there are some lessons learned that I consider worth remembering year round.

  • We have more than enough. Enough what, you may ask? Everything! We live in a culture where the more we have, the more we want and the more we think we need. Although not everyone is in the same boat, there are many people who feel they go without, when in fact, there is very little that most of us go without. Andy Stanley reminded me last week that we (as North Americans) live in a world where we have a perfectly good car that does exactly what we need it to, yet will go and trade it in on a newer, better model. Or, we have a kitchen with a fridge, stove and counter space that meets all our cooking needs but yet will rip it out and start over so it can all be new. The truth is, we often have exactly what we need and shouldn’t take for granted how many ‘extras’ we really do have.
  • Opportunity is everywhere. What a great place we live where we have the opportunity to change our circumstances. When we’re in school we’re encouraged to explore all the things we could be when we ‘grow up’ and once we’re in the career phase of our life, the world really is our oyster and we can shape and mold our own destiny. There are an abundance of opportunities all around us – all we need to do is look for them and then take action and make them happen.
  • Freedom is a privilege. When I watch the news I am frequently reminded there are countries where all people hope to get out of a day is a safe place to hide from the gunfire surrounding them, or maybe they dream of a day when they can openly profess their religious beliefs. We often take freedom for granted, but because every day you get to decide what you do and where you’ll go, we should be eternally thankful.
  • We need to complain less. It’s easy to get caught up in what I’ve heard referred to as ‘first world problems’. I saw a Saturday Night Live skit that had a number of technology experts complaining about all the issues with the iPhone 5 and then they brought on a panel of people representing the factory workers who make the iPhone 5 to respond to the complaints. When you look at the life circumstances of many of those overseas factory workers, the technies felt ridiculous complaining about how the iPhone wasn’t fast enough or how the maps didn’t work properly. I also recently heard someone talking about how they felt over-taxed when they withdrew money from their retirement savings. Think of all the people who dream of having any retirement savings at all! Next time you catch yourself complaining, think of how you may sound because it may come across as ungrateful.

If you need some reminders about why you should be grateful, especially on days when you feel you don’t have a lot to be grateful for, click here for a list of 19 reasons that was recently posted on one of my favorite websites, Practical Tips for Productive Living.

I think at the end of the day, if you had a heart-to-heart conversation with anyone you’d be able to get them to a place where their gratitude came to the surface. However, we should all strive to live our lives in a way where our gratitude for the amazing abundance we have is evident to all those we connect with on a daily basis.