Tips for Thanksgiving from a recovering pessimist

For a little while I considered not writing a note on Thanksgiving. After all, what would I have to say about the topic that is not constantly being repeated over and over again these days? I realized it would be even stranger and almost “attempted hipster” to ignore the topic all together. I am quite fond of the Holiday. It is a personal favorite when I block out Black Friday (Read Black month) from the thoughts about the festive day. It is a holiday that revolves around family, friends, and eating. Easily some of my favorite thing in this world even if every one of them can run the risk of over indulging.

This holiday can be difficult for a specific personality though. There are some where the spirit of Thanksgiving comes naturally. They struggle with picking just one thing to be thankful for when life is so full of blessings for them. There is another kind of person though. It is the pessimist. I feel for your kind. We are kindred spirits. I am a constant recovering pessimist. I understand the complications of being thankful when you naturally see the world in a bleaker view. Never fear! I have some tips for the recovering pessimist to remind himself on this wonderful holiday.

1. Stop waiting for the axe to fall. Too often we pessimists look at the blessings in our life, and simply see them as something to rejuvenate us as we prepare for the next big storm in life. Blessings are viewed as a precursor to a natural disaster. It’s pretty crummy. This view keeps us from enjoying what we have in the moment. Blessings are meant to be enjoyed. We should delight in what is good in our lives even if circumstances in the future could change those very same things we are grateful for. Be thankful for what we have today, and stop focusing on the “what ifs” about tomorrow.

2. Ignore the ever growing commercializing of the holiday. They hijacked Christmas with Santa. They pooped on Easter with a deranged identity crisis bunny. Valentines day was birthed for commercialism, and is now a mockery dressed up as a baby that seems strangely like an adult in a diaper with arrows that attempt to strike ravaging adolescents in desperate need of a significant other. They want to ensnare Thanksgiving too. It would be easy to look at those around us and see the sanity that is Thanksgiving. For some it is the dread of in-laws (I enjoy mine). For others it marks the true beginning to the Christmas rush. Thanksgiving has been morphed into a time of stress. My advice? Stick it to the man. Don’t indulge in the stress. No one can make you stress out about a Holiday. No one can demand you engage in the commercializing of it. You have a choice in how you want to appreciate this holiday. The rest of the world means squat over it.

3. Be thankful for the crummy stuff too. There are some things in our life that make no sense. We face tragedy and pain. There are few things that are inevitable in life. One of those is suffering. A pessimist will take this knowledge and mistake its context. He will say that we are made to suffer. A recovering pessimist like me will see the folly in that statement. Suffering is used for us to grow. I have suffered pain in my life, but I would not be the person I am without that pain. If I did not experience some of the pain I did then I would likely not be married to my wife. Pain is part of a journey. Even the blessings in that journey must thank the suffering faced in that journey as well. Without the suffering there would be none of the blessings.

4. Forgiveness leads to thankfulness. A pessimistic attitude is often rooted in a personal event where the individual was hurt. Maybe it is forma family member, a relationship, or even a random stranger. There are times where the world simply teaches us how cruel it can be. We grow spiteful and angry towards an individual or a group of individuals. If we let this linger it eventually spreads towards people in general. We need to let go of our hurt so healing can take place. After that the clouds will lift, and we will see everything that has been there the whole time to be thankful for. This leads into the next tip.

5. Do not put your faith in men. If we put out hope in the goodness of others then we will remain pessimistic. Thanksgiving will be a bleak affair. We will view the world as though even anything good from someone is out of selfish motivations. We will be incapable of trusting others if we rely on others to be good. We simply are not good. None of us are. We are rotten from sin. We are selfish creatures. Do not trust in men who are good, but rather trust the one who is the source of anything good from men. We may not be good, but we serve a God who is.

6. When all else fails be thankful for your salvation. This is the one piece thing that can never be stolen from you. It can never take a depressing turn. It can never lead to a broken heart. It is the relationship that is the ultimate fulfillment. It is the parent that can never make a mistake. It is the friend who will never hurt you. Take heart my pessimistic friends. I am a recovering pessimist. It all stems from this simple concept. A man with a soul chained to the devil and sin is incapable of joy and happiness. A man with a soul fully surrendered to God is incapable of losing hope and purpose. I’m always going to be a slave to a master. One sucks out all the joy, but the other gives me fulfillment.

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