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By Mary T. O’Sullivan, MSOL
“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” —Oprah Winfrey
There is no lack of subject matter to write about in the world of business, society, and politics. People face the dilemma of the “future of work” or “the new normal” and hybrid workforce just as they have for the last two years. Politicians posture for their next big election, holding fingers up to the wind and hoping they know which way the wind is blowing. Our streets reverberate with protests and violence, gunfire even, and the homeless camp out in ad hoc tent cities all over the country. Social media pressure increases and its influence morphs faster than a teenager’s shoe size; it’s impossible to keep up with whatever is trending.
Now Halloween is over, and Thanksgiving is upon us. Despite some ephemeral spring like weather, we know the dark days of winter will consume our collective consciousness in the coming months. It’s time to turn away from what can depress us and look ahead. It’s time to give thanks.
After wishing summer a fond goodbye, we can contemplate our Fortune, however fickle she may be. What makes us fortunate when others are so lacking in fundamentals? When we think of all we are thankful for, a good guide is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
Most of us know we have the first level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs covered, food, clothing, shelter, water, physical safety, and that our other physiological needs are satisfied. Those basic needs keep us alive. Can we count on emotional, psychological, and intellectual security? It gets trickier on that level to have all our needs met, do we have confidence that we have a corner of the world that accepts us, comforts us, validates us, and loves us? This critical level preserves our sanity, our well-being, our ability to love, foster friendships and feelings of belonging.
As we move up the hierarchy, to esteem – the ability to give and receive respect, status, and recognition, we feel more and more fortunate. Think of all we’ve accomplished in our lives, all that we’ve given and received, all that we’ve achieved. Many people never get that opportunity, so feeling good about oneself, for all the right reasons, might be considered a luxury, and something to be thankful for.
And couldn’t we all be considered lucky if we reach Maslow’s highest level of needs, the level of self-actualization. Have we achieved all we can achieve with the many graces we’ve been given? Are we in a place that allows us to live magnanimously, generously, gratefully, and appreciatively?
As we assemble around our bountiful tables this Thanksgiving, let’s promise to be living in that highest level of needs, where we give as well as receive. It’s said that heaven is reminiscent of a Thanksgiving table. All sit around a huge banquet table; however, one hand is tied behind their backs so they can’t reach the food on the table. In hell, it’s a real struggle, no one can get to the food, try as they may to feed themselves. In heaven, everyone at the table is eating. How is that possible? Because those in heaven are feeding each other.
As the late November darkness envelops us earlier than yesterday, this Thanksgiving Day, be that safety, that love, that shelter for someone else. And be ever grateful for the clothes we wear, the bountiful food we eat, the love surrounding us, and Fortune smiling down on us.
“Reflect upon your present blessings—of which every man has many—not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”—Charles Dickens
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Mary T. O’Sullivan, Master of Science, Organizational Leadership, International Coaching Federation Professional Certified Coach, Society of Human Resource Management, “Senior Certified Professional. Graduate Certificate in Executive and Professional Career Coaching, University of Texas at Dallas.
Member, Beta Gamma Sigma, the International Honor Society.
Advanced Studies in Education from Montclair University, SUNY Oswego and Syracuse University.
Mary is also a certified Six Sigma Specialist, Contract Specialist, IPT Leader and holds a Certificate in Essentials of Human Resource Management from SHRM.