FARNSWORTH'S FIRST LAW OF LIFE, LEADERSHIP, AND LEFTOVERS:
It's Not the Thanksgiving Dinner, but the Things That Are Left Over That Matter Most
I. GOOD: As we celebrate Thanksgiving this week, it is important for us 21st Century Americans to recognize how incredibly blessed we are. Virtually no one in the history of the world or on any other place on the planet has as much as we do.
The average American today lives a far more luxurious life than the wealthiest monarch in centuries past. The scraps from our Thanksgiving tables would be an absolute feast for half the people in the world today.
I have found that enjoying and appreciating abundance creates greater abundance. "Gratitude is the open door to abundance," said Yogi Bhajan, and Dr. Cathy Phillips has written that "gratitude will open your heart as well."
As we acknowledge how blessed we are and we express gratitude for our blessings, we will discover greater joy and contentment left over from Thanksgiving this year.
II. BETTER: One of the dangers of our unprecedented material wealth is that it may blind us to the real abundance in our lives.
St. Luke warns: "A man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth." Too much "stuff" can get in the way of seeing and enjoying greater treasures.
According to Michael Beckwith:
There is a lie that acts like a virus within the mind of humanity. And that lie is, "There's not enough good to go around. There's lack and there's limitation and there's just not enough." The truth is that there's more than enough good to go around. There are more than enough creative ideas. There is more than enough power. There is more than enough love. There's more than enough joy. There is enough for everyone.
There are no quotas or limits to the things that matter most in life. My joy and happiness do not take away from yours, and your joy and happiness do not take away from mine.
My peace and contentment do not diminish yours, nor do yours diminish mine. Whatever wisdom and understanding either of us has does not limit the other's.
When we are able to see beyond physical possessions, we recognize that our abundance is potentially infinite and immeasurable. When we pay attention to things that matter more than money and property, we stop comparing and start enjoying what we have.
Hopefully our Thanksgiving "leftovers" this year will include a deeper awareness of the incomparable value of our nonmaterial wealth.
III. BEST: The best way to think about abundance is to abandon any notion of having abundance and to focus instead on giving abundantly.
Something incredibly wonderful happens when the key question of our life shifts from "How much can I get?" or "How much do I have?" to "How much can I give?"
When our lust for accumulation gives way to a yearning to share our abundance, we are not content with blessing our family alone, but we become anxious to bless the entire human race.
Something even more powerful happens when we recognize that the most important things we have to give are not the things we own, but a part of who we are. "Rings and other jewels are not gifts, but apologies for gifts," said Ralph Waldo Emerson. "The only gift is a portion of thyself."
This insight allows us to see that everyone can be an abundant giver and that "no one need wait a single moment to improve the world." Anne Frank.
Here are some of those portion-of-thyself gifts that we can all give more abundantly, regardless of our financial station in life:
- Our time
- Our attention
- Our kindness
- Our forgiveness
- Our knowledge
- Our wisdom
- Our understanding
- Our stories
- Our cheerful attitude
- Our encouragement
- Our appreciation
- Our questions
- Our faith
- Our courage
- Our example
- Our music
- Our creativity
- Our tenacity
- Our sense of humor
This list could go on and on. There is no end to the ways we can be a blessing in others' lives.
As we give abundantly of ourselves, in a miraculous way what we give comes back to us, multiplied. "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into you." Luke 6: 38
This I have found to be true: When we focus on being a blessing to others, God makes sure that we are blessed in abundance, especially with riches far more valuable than anything tangible or financial.
This year, I pray that we may focus more on the "GIVING" part of Thanksgiving, especially on giving of ourselves. As we do, I believe added joy, peace, and contentment will be among our Thanksgiving leftovers.