OPINION: The importance of giving thanks in challenging times

Giving thanks in tough and difficult times is often not the easiest thing to do.

But mental health experts will tell you that having a sense of gratitude is of the utmost importance, particularly during these challenging days.

As we reflect on another Thanksgiving Weekend, it can be easy to get caught up in the negative. And Lord knows we live in a world today that is negative, especially in its attitude. A pandemic that has lasted more than a year and a half, and turned our world upside down, will do that.

Mario Toneguzz1

So it is easy to get fixated on the negative but for your mental and physical wellbeing it’s wise to approach the negativity with a positive outlook.

And if we take a step back we can always find things we are grateful for.

For me it always comes down to family and friends first and foremost. After that it’s about being healthy and a sense of gratitude for everything I do have in my life like shelter, food and some little luxuries.

But this Thanksgiving I’ve also been giving a lot of thought to the world of business.

There’s no question that the past year or so has been an extremely tough one for many businesses in Canada. Many unfortunately have had to close their doors because the pandemic has challenged their finances too much, leaving them with no option but to give up.

That’s been the sad reality of the situation we have been in and that reality looks like it will continue for some time as there appears to be no end in sight right now for this vicious disease that in many ways has put the world in turmoil and chaos.

But it’s really not all doom and gloom. Some businesses have thrived during this pandemic and they fall into two categories.

The first are those businesses that offer a product or a service that fits into a need during a pandemic. Some obvious examples include food delivery services and home fitness equipment.

The second is businesses who have shifted during the pandemic to take advantage of changing consumer behaviour. The most obvious here is all those businesses that have wisely invested and embarked on a digital journey as more and more consumers travel that road when they are spending their money.

One thing I’ve learned in life is that there is always opportunity even in the bleakest of times. I experienced one of those bleak times close to six years ago when I was laid off from the Calgary Herald after working there for 35 years. And I won’t lie to anyone. It was a tough time from a mental point of view in those early days when I was out of a job.

But the key to moving out of that funk was realizing there was opportunity out there. Maybe not in the traditional mainstream media anymore due to the recent decimation in that industry, but certainly elsewhere if I opened my eyes and was willing to go down another path.

I’m reminded of the famous Robert Frost poem The Road Not Taken. Particularly these lines: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.

The life we live is all determined by the choices we make. The paths we decide to take. The opportunities we embrace or ignore.

Life and reality can beat us down like the pandemic has done.

But what I am grateful for and thankful for this Thanksgiving Weekend is that the human spirit is tough and it’s resilient and it does triumph over the adversities of life. Yes there is pain. You can’t go through life without experiencing it. But even in that pain and difficulty, whether you are an individual or a business, you can discover joy, contentment, happiness and success.

That is what I am thankful for today.

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