Give thanks to everyone, especially to those people who make you feel crazy

Oliver may not have been thankful for his turkey-look-a-like attire, but we all must have gratitude for things that we don't always enjoy.

Oliver may not have been thankful for his turkey-look-a-like attire, but we should have gratitude for even those things (or people!) that we don’t always enjoy.

It’s pretty easy to be thankful for those people or things that we love, appreciate, or enjoy, especially when we learn that those things might go away.

It was a year ago when Oliver, our active and headstrong then-three-year-old cat, had emergency surgery. I was at a conference that day and we had dropped Oliver off at the vet in the morning, anticipating a routine procedure to correct a bladder issue he had developed. An urgent text message from the vet asking me to call her office didn’t bode well.

As she started to explain the unusual nature of the issue, and the complications that could develop once surgery began, it was clear that Oliver’s life was tenuous. I couldn’t believe the possibility that he might not come home to us.

There are a host of reasons I am very thankful that he did come home to us that night (and has since recovered to perfect health), but it wasn’t because of the times when he does things that irritate us. Oliver can be an obstinate feline, paying no attention when we ask him to do (or not do) something, like confidently strolling across forbidden counter tops and using the furniture as a scratching post instead of the lovely one we bought that stands inches from the sofa we’d like to keep from being shredded. But perhaps those are some of the best reasons that I should give thanks for him.

When people (or cats) annoy us, we’re not too quick to show our gratitude. How often have you said, “Oh that person made me so angry and I am immensely thankful for that!” That’s just odd, isn’t it? But yet, why not think that way?

Mostly Oliver is a small, soft, bundle of joy that we adore, but there are definitely the moments that he aggravates us to no end. On the occasion when he pushes our buttons, it’s offers us an important opportunity to be creative (learn new ways to divert him from unwanted behavior), patient (maybe it’s not such a big deal that he knocks the wine bottle cork on the floor to chase), or to have greater understanding (seeing something from his perspective can be quite enlightening). These are all lessons that can be applied to our work places and our personal lives, helping us become better people, managers, or friends.

If we’re irritated, it’s likely the other person is, too. Oliver was quite mad with us when he got home from his surgery; he was not too thankful for that pretty little blue skirt that made him look like a turkey. But without it, the stitches would not have been able to heal properly. He didn’t understand that collar was his life-saver, he saw it as a colossal irritant. Often we don’t understand that when obstacles come in our path, they may in fact be there to save us. Or at least help us. 

What hurdles or hardships are you facing? Maybe it’s an annoying co-worker, difficult family member, or some type of self-doubt you’re experiencing. When faced with something that makes you feel crazy, stop and give thanks. Look at what this quandary offers for a development opportunity. We face obstacles for a reason: so we can learn to overcome them.

This Thanksgiving Day, give thanks to everything and everybody. Even those things and people who make you feel crazy. Inspire us by leaving a comment with how you gave thanks!

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  1. Ellen on November 26, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    Robin ~

    I am amazed that THIS is your spin on the traditional Thanksgiving message. How serendipitous!

    As a Christian, I work at living my life in service to God, driven by “In every thing give thanks” from Thessalonians. I find it easy to be thankful for the good in my life. Who couldn’t?

    It is when I began to offer Thanks for the challenges, the difficult situations, the losses, the aggravations of life with others and with myself that my faith is actually strengthened. The challenges lessen, the difficult situations become manageable, the losses in my life become reasons to feel gratitude, and the aggravations turn into life lessons and the angst diminishes.

    I am hosting family for Thanksgiving. I am going to switch it up a bit and ask that we each share a situation that has had its difficulties this past year and what “giving thanks” may open up for us. My hope is that burdens will lessen and God’s grace will surround us with love, compassion and the strength to continue doing our best each and every day. I can almost guarantee that the conversation around the dinner table will be more memorable as our family ties become stronger. I’ll let you know how it goes!

    Thank you for all your good work.


    • Robin on November 26, 2014 at 8:16 pm

      Ellen, love your idea for the Thanksgiving dinner conversation. Please do share how it went! As someone else replied to me privately, “these challenges are life’s greatest lessons.” Thanks to you for commenting. And Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

      • Ellen on December 11, 2014 at 11:36 am

        Here is the follow-up to what is now to be a new Thanksgiving tradition at my table.

        When all the preparations of the meal were complete, I invited my family to take their seats at the table before we served up to meal to ourselves.

        I explained the “twist” to the usual “what are you thankful for?” prompt. Fortunately, they were willing. I started the ball rolling sharing a difficult situation at work that has challenged me in many ways where I did not handle it well and was left feeling frustrated. I shared my gratitude for receiving the lesson and my hope for better outcomes in the future, when confronted by a similar situation.

        Once everyone spoke, comments were shared about how nice it was to create a space of quiet reflection, contemplation and gratitude prior to the feeding frenzy of the meal. My surprise and was the eloquence of my niece and nephew (20-somethings) in sharing their stories of gratitude. We were truly blessed to be together…giving thanks.



        • Robin on December 11, 2014 at 4:08 pm

          This is beautiful, Ellen, in many ways. Thank you so much for coming back and letting us know how things went. A great example for all of us to follow. I am grateful to you for sharing.

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