Thanksgiving…why not be thankful 365 days a year?

As another Thanksgiving draws near, I am going through my annual routine with my children and asking them what they are thankful for.  As usual, and like most children their age, they are thankful for basic things such as “our family, our house, food, friends, their teachers etc.” I’m always pleased to hear that they remain grounded and have a sense of appreciation, yet I often times wonder if their answers will change as they grow up. I certainly hope not! While I have not asked my mother what I used to say when she asked me that same question as a child, I suspect my answers were similar. Now as an adult, I would like to think my answers would be the same – and they are. However, admittedly, I don’t take near enough time to pause in the hectic world we live in to ponder those things I am thankful for.  As a result, I’m essentially taking those things for granted. I suspect that I’m not alone. Why is this?  Why do we often lose perspective and take things for granted that we are most thankful for?  Why do we prioritize things ahead of those that are most important us?  Humor me a moment and allow me to offer a couple of thoughts on this…

First, I believe the primary reason for us taking basic things for granted is our relentless pursuit to be successful. But what does success mean and, more importantly, how do we know when we are successful?  Who defines our success?  Unfortunately, in today’s society most of us let others define whether or not we are successful in life.  If someone asked you to develop a list of people you deem successful, I suspect that the majority of your answers would be based on the person’s title, rank, wealth, notoriety, individual accomplishments, etc.  Rarely, do you hear anyone define a person’s success by just being a good, all-around person.  In fact, without the title, accomplishments, and perhaps wealth, people might even consider this person an under-achiever!

I’m a Gen X’er! My parents, therefore, were children of the Greatest Generation and were raised on sound principles of hard work and perseverance.  In turn, they instilled the same principles in my sister and I.  I was taught that in order to be “successful,” you had to work harder than anyone else, learn from your failures, andnever be satisfied.  I don’t think anyone would disagree with the value that working hard and persevering generates.  Furthermore, always trying to better yourself and never being satisfied with the status quo will guide you toward becoming the best version of yourself that you can become.  However, I firmly believe that you have to keep this within context when applying this to life.  If you are never satisfied in life and, therefore, continually pursuing something else, then you will have the tendency to lose perspective on those basic things that you are most thankful for and perhaps even neglect them.

Again, I admitted at the onset, that I struggle with this myself from time to time and lose perspective of what is really important.  As I age this becomes more important for me everyday.  So, I have one thought that I would challenge everyone to consider to help with this and that is to find your purpose.  Why do you get up everyday and do the things you do?  Why are you pursuing success?  I firmly believe that there is a deeper reason people want to be successful and it’s more than just the sense of achievement.  If you don’t have a purpose, then are you really successful? To the extent you can hold yourself to a purpose that is bigger than yourself, then you can actually put your success to good use! Otherwise, your success is merely a trophy so-to-speak that you can look at and feel proud of.

As employers, we all have a tremendous opportunity to contribute to the success of each and every person we touch in a way that goes far beyond the financial impact we can have on them. By doing so, we can play a large part in each person’s life and ensure that they are not taking those things for granted in which they are most thankful. In fact, at MJ Insurance, our purpose is to “Inspire the success, fulfillment and well-being of each person we serve!”  Those that we serve consist of our associates and their families, our clients, our business partners and the community.  In fact, we could achieve extraordinary profit and growth but would not consider ourselves successful unless those that we serve are achieving success and fulfillment and their well-being is maximized. Stay tuned for a future blog where we will go into this in more detail.

So, when I ask myself what I am thankful for it has never been so clear to me.  As I mentioned above, I remain thankful for all the basic things in life that I cherish such as family, friends, our country and the essential items for daily living.  In addition to that, I am very thankful and blessed to be a part of an organization that inspires me everyday to work on becoming the best version of myself that I can become in life and challenging me everyday to not lose sight of what is really important! Thank you to all of my colleagues at MJ and may all of you have wonderful holiday season!