Another Thanksgiving as a Single
So, you find yourself at yet another Thanksgiving Dinner single and without a date. When you look around the table and see lots of people with their spouse or significant other or at least a date, it’s a lot easier to think about what you don’t have than to be thankful for what you do have.
How can you have an attitude of gratitude? How can you, as the Bible commands, give thanks in all circumstances? I have to admit that as a divorcee in my forties, it was a lot easier to grumble and complain than it was to be thankful. But, even in the worst of it, I still found things I could be thankful for.
Thankfulness in Small Things
For one, my mom and dad were still alive and well. For another, one of my grandparents was still alive and well. And the more I thought about it, the more reasons I found to be thankful. Maybe I didn’t get to spend as much time with my children as I would have liked, but at least my ex didn’t move them out-of-town or out-of-state. Money was tight, but I had food to eat and a place to stay.
I lived alone except for a few blessed days every other week when my kids were with me. But, after a while, I became thankful for that alone time. It had value. I was more spiritual, more creative, and more connected to friends and family than I had been in a long time. Just having the use of all of my extremities, being, pretty much, in my right mind were reasons to be thankful. Having the mental capacity to ponder the meaning of life and happiness is a reason for thankfulness.
Why, Why, Why
For the record, I was not always thankful. I tend toward depression and I fought with all the thoughts you would expect. I resented the time I didn’t have with my children. It bothered me that when I did have them it freed up my ex to go spend time with another man. And, even with my introvert tendencies, spending so much time alone got old at times.
With each passing year, I thought more and more that I would die single and alone. I wondered why, why, why. Why did I have to go through this? Why couldn’t I find someone? If God loved me, why did I have to go so many years without the emotional and sexual intimacy I so desperately desired?
I can’t promise you that your story will turn out great or that you will find and marry that successful, attractive person of your dreams. But, I can tell you this – life is much better when you learn to be thankful for what you do have. And, I can also tell you that you will be more attractive to higher quality people when you learn to be thankful and stop spending your time whining and complaining.
Thankfulness and Control
There are lots of things in this world you have no control over.
- Other people’s actions and choices
- How people treat you
- The economy
- How people drive or treat each other
- The price of groceries or rent
There are some things you have limited control over. You can probably have at least some impact on these things.
- Your health – genetics might work against you, but you can exercise and eat better
- Your appearance – here again, genetics might work against you, but dressing well and practicing good hygiene and grooming goes a long way
- Your income – the economy might work against you, but you can always look for or try to create opportunities
But, there is one thing you always have complete control over – your attitude. Whatever your situation, you can choose to be thankful – whether circumstances warrant it or not.
Yeh, Yeh, Heard It Before
I know. I know. Some of you are thinking “I’ve heard all this before, this is just another collection of clichés.” And yes, to some extent, that is true. I am not offering up anything here that has not been said before again and again. I do not have any new, novel, groundbreaking advice to offer you this time around.
But, consider this, sometimes things stick around forever and become clichés because they work. They have stood the test of time. So, when I hear world-class psychologists and psychiatrists, people like Dr. James Dobson and Dr. Victor Frankl, tell me that my attitude is the one thing I can control, I take notice, I pay attention, even if I have heard it before.
I want to leave you with this challenge. It is simple in concept but it can be extremely difficult in practice. This Thanksgiving – be thankful. Instead of wasting the day pining for love lost or never experienced, be thankful. Be thankful for every single breath, every single opportunity, and every single moment of beauty – no matter how rare or short-lived it may have been.
And, if you really want to thrive as a single person, do this, not just on Thanksgiving Day, but every single day.
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