We all know people who always see a glass as half empty. It is tough to be around them and their unrelenting pessimism. Then there is the other bunch, those bright, sunshiny, “half full” types, who always see the best in everything. They can be equally exhausting with their irritating enthusiasm.
I spend time in both places, depending on the day. But if I had to choose one team to join forever, well, that’s easy.
One of my favorite things about my favorite American holiday is simply its reason–a national day of thanks. Thanks for what and why? And thanks to whom? Not to mention how. Is pigging out and watching football synonymous with expressing gratitude? Those half-empty types might wish it were, but of course it’s not.
“Gratitude is the antidote for toxic things that come into our lives…(it) fosters optimism, which strengthens hope. That’s why it’s hard to imagine more effective soul medicine…” wrote Gregory L. Jantz, Ph.D. for Psychology Today in 2020. I’m sure that’s at least one reason President Abraham Lincoln issued the proclamation creating the national holiday in 1863.
I took my soul medicine this week, and I’m already feeling better.
Election bright spots
While the election in Indiana had some bright spots, I am most appreciative of how elections went across the nation. Most of those trying to get elected, on a platform of (insert eye roll here) election denialism, were aptly denied. As a bonus, most of them accepted the outcome and conceded. Except, most notably, Arizona gubernatorial candidate, Kari Lake. She “won’t back down” in defeat. The estate of the late Tom Petty threatened legal action against the Lake camp for using his classic song, “I Won’t Back Down,” in promoting her failed campaign. I’m thinking Beck might be OK if she used his classic, “Loser,” on her YouTube videos and rallies. Crowds will love it, no matter how small.
I am thankful for America’s young voters. Oh sure, more of them voted the way I wanted them to than not, but their impressive turnout numbers alone are cause for optimism we can all share. Historically, nothing is more effective at long term turnout than getting the glass-half-full-youth in the voting habit as soon as possible. The glass-half-empty-types, like people my age, could learn from their kids here.
Michigan is not a word that instinctively brings me joy when I hear it or read it. This Thanksgiving though, I am thankful for the example our neighbor to the north is setting in its politics. Yes, I appreciate Michiganders adding the right to abortion and contraceptive use to its constitution. But even more so, seeing their government led by strong women whose support continues to grow with voters, is a good example to have nearby.
I am thankful the U.S. Senate is proceeding with the Respect for Marriage Act, which will enshrine marriage equality in federal law. I am thankful that Republican Senator Todd Young voted for it. Senator Mike Braun, and two other Hoosier members of congress looking at running statewide, Reps. Jim Banks and Victoria Spartz voted against it. I appreciate their “no” votes too. Nothing more clearly identifies a politician as out of touch than this. Thank you to all three of them for announcing their intolerance.
Tolerance and love
Which reminds me of something for which I am grateful year-round. I am thankful that I am never frustrated, angry or hateful enough to support things designed to hurt people. I am grateful that I never celebrate the suffering of others. I am grateful that policy and political positions I support are based on my view of how they can improve or enrich people’s lives, as opposed to punishing or “owning” them. For those opposed to marriage equality, consider joining our half-full, love and tolerance-based coalition. It might surprise you how much better your soul will feel.
Finally, I am thankful to celebrate Thanksgiving in South Florida every year. Down here, turkey isn’t on the menu, stone crab is. But stone crab isn’t cheap. In all my years, I have found that everyone needs a friend with a truck, a friend with a boat, and a friend with a pool. Down here, it’s hard to beat having a friend with stone crab traps. I am particularly thankful for mine.
And I’m going to tell him so right to his face tomorrow.
This year don’t wastefully keep your gratitude a secret from those who need to know about it. Before filling up your plate, fill up your soul first by actually saying thank you.