29 Nov

Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction.  We would worry less if we praised more.  - Harry Ironside

How did you celebrate Thanksgiving? Most Americans spent at least a few minutes enumerating all the many things they are thankful for as they sat around the table and ate turkey.  Of course, there were some who did not have much to celebrate, but even they might have been touched by the generosity of others who helped provide meals for those less fortunate. 

It probably did not take long, however, for discontent and disaffection to set in and take control of our lives.  Fueled by family gatherings and time off to reflect, the giving of thanks may have soon been replaced by complaints and negative thoughts. 

Do not get me wrong.  I am a big believer in, as Ben Franklin put it, “Content makes poor men rich; discontent makes rich men poor.” But there is also the side that drives men to higher levels of attainment because of their dissatisfaction with the way things are.  “Restlessness is discontent, and discontent is the first necessity of progress. Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I will show you a failure.” Thomas A. Edison, a man who knew aa little about failure and success, spoke these words. 

So, what did you learn about yourself this Thanksgiving? Did you find new reasons to complain and be miserable or did you find inspiration and a new commitment?  Back to Franklin… “All our discontents about what we want appears to me to spring from the want of thankfulness for what we have.” 

When you recognize discontentment or disappointment, the first thing to do is stop what you’re doing. Stop grumbling and complaining. Stop sulking or stomping around the house. Stop the critical tongue toward others that often comes from the abundance of a discontented heart. Stop looking at the covetousness-producing catalogs, Tweets and Facebook pages. 

This is difficult because the mind is a machine that is constantly asking, what do I want?  We are constantly on the move looking for something else, something better, something that “completes” who we are. 

It is all about finding balance in who we are and what we need.  Do we need a second helping? A bigger TV? A new car?  Are our needs being met or is there a disaffection with where we are in life. James Faust put it in these terms. “A grateful heart is a beginning of greatness. It is an expression of humility. It is a foundation for the development of such virtues as prayer, faith, courage, contentment, happiness, love, and well-being.

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