A Thankful Thanksgiving

thankfulIf your home is like most, your Thanksgiving Day will be very busy, with either traveling to where you want to go or preparing your home to have others over for the day. Either way, that can be very hectic and emotionally trying, which doesn’t lend itself to preparing your heart to be reflective and thankful. In fact, Thanksgiving weekend is the most traveled weekend in America. Airports are full, and don’t always provide much room for contemplation of your good fortune.

This means all the more that if we want to be the kind of people who are characterized by thankfulness, then we must make sure that we focus on it, and not just on Thanksgiving Day, but at all times during the year.

Here are a few key words as well as some thoughts that are simple and practical to apply; something you can use right away in your quest to become more thankful:
Time. Set aside time regularly to be quiet, to reflect. We live in the fastest-paced time ever. From the moment we awake to the moment we collapse into bed, we have the opportunity to go at full speed and never slow down. If we schedule time every day in which we can be quiet and reflect, we will free our hearts and minds from the tyranny of the urgent and rushed.

Thought. Give thought to the many blessings that you have. Living in a consumer culture, most of us are fully aware of what we do not have and how we absolutely must have “it.” But how often do we reflect upon that which we already have? Take some time each day and think of one or two things you have that you may typically take for granted, and then take a moment and give thanks for those. In fact, I make it a part of my reflection time to review a list of things that I’m thankful for.

Generosity. Be generous toward those with less and not envious of those with more. We tend to look at others who may be wealthier than ourselves and think, “I sure wish I had what he does.” That kind of thinking breeds envy and jealousy rather than contentment. What can we do to break that cycle? I would suggest being generous to those who are less fortunate than yourself. Go to work at a food bank, and not just during the holidays—everybody works there then—but on a regular basis during the year. That will remind you of how good you really have it.

Ask. Ask a friend what they are thankful for. You will be amazed at the answers you receive and you will create a meaningful bond with your friends as you focus on this powerful question.

Acknowledge. Lastly, tell those you love how thankful you are for having them in your life. So many times we neglect to take the time to craft the words to express to those closest to us what their presence in our lives means to us. Take the opportunity of Thanksgiving Day to write them a note, or sometime during the day put your hand on their shoulder, look them in the eyes and tell them. Let them know what they mean to you, and in return you’ll begin to create the possibility of deeper, richer, more fulfilling relationships with those you love.

Of course, we should do what we can to make the most of the day we call Thanksgiving, but wouldn’t it be a shame if the only time we reflected on our blessings was that one Thursday in November? And the answer is, of course! So let’s do our best to be aware of the many great gifts that we have each and every day of the year. As we do so we will see our hearts soar and our minds more and more at peace as we regularly remember and remain aware of our good fortune.

10 Ways to Teach Humility

Author GK Chesterton said: “What we suffer from today is humility in the wrong place. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth. This is now exactly reversed.”

Many modern young people state there is no absolute truth, but they are supremely overconfident in themselves. So when your son or daughter displays genuine humility, they stand out like the noonday sun. Here’s 10 ways to teach your children humility:

  1. Modeling.
    Never underestimate the power of teaching through example. Humility must be consistently modeled as a lifestyle, not an on-again, off-again example.
  2. Build them up.
    This may sound counter intuitive, but it’s important to understand that humility always comes from a position of belief, strength, and self-assurance.
  3. Encourage and help them to be the very best they can beno matter what they do.
    Humility works best when your child has actually achieved something! Help your child achieve with confidence.
  4. Make sure they understand where their real value comes from.
    It’s easier to sidestep pride or arrogance when children understand that they are valued simply because they are your child, not because they win the race, have a prettier mom (and a smarter dad!), earn a higher income, or score the most points.
  5. Never humiliate your kids.
    Humility cannot be imposed. It’s important not to confuse humiliation, bullying, and beating down with an education in humility.
  6. Expose your child to the great teachers and their stories.
    Jesus, Mother Teresa, Eric Liddell… are all wonderful role models. For Jesus, there are lots of great children’s books about him, as well as about Mother Teresa. Eric Liddell is the man who inspired the movie, Chariots of Fire, a great film for your whole family.
  7. Teach them to serve.
    – Serve the homeless
    – Serve the poor
    – Serve their family
    – Serve one another
  8. Coach them on how to respond.
    Kids need to be taught to say, “please” and “thank you” as much as they need to be taught to brush their teeth and to stay out of the street. So why expect them to know humility without guidance? Here’s an example: “Look, Jr., that’s a great job you did on your science fair project. You deserved to win the prize. Now, this is how you handle it in class tomorrow…let’s practice saying,
    “I like the way my friend, Matt, did his project, too.”
    “I don’t think I could have won without the help of my teacher.”
    You get the idea.
  9. Teach them how to apologize.
    The well-timed and sincere apology is a key component of humility. Sometimes they’re wrong; they need to acknowledge that. Sometimes they overreach and it’s time to back up. Sometimes, they receive unintentional consequences they need to smooth over.
  10. Teach them to give thanks.
    A genuinely grateful heart is a key building block for humility. Gratitude, practiced and eventually owned, enhances humility at every turn. The person saying “thank you” affects a posture that is unassuming and modest. Try this: every time someone offers a compliment, simply say, “thank you.” It’s the kind of response that eventually soaks in, grows roots, and blooms humility.

Habit of Improvement!  

No matter your level or stage of training, seeking improvement on a regular basis creates the conditions for optimal performance.

When it comes to martial arts training, this is one of the foundations to becoming a diligent student. Most of us understand that pursuing higher, broader, longer-rage goals makes more of us than pursuing shallow, short-sighted goals.

What you become in the pursuit of a challenging goal transforms you more than an easy one.

The black belt mindset is one in which we choose to pursue excellence rather than accept mediocrity.

We’re not talking about becoming a perfectionist with an all-or-nothing approach to challenges or goals. We’re talking about preparing well through physical, mental and emotional training to be able to optimize the results we get in our lives. The outcome is a continuous, continuing life-long journey of personal growth and improvement.

Areas of improvement can include:

  • Martial arts – how can you improve your attitude and attention to become a more complete martial artist?
  • Personal relationships – how can you become a better, more tuned-in listener with family and friends?
  • Career – where can you use your time more effectively and efficiently?
  • Finances – how can you save, invest and spend wisely?
  • Emotional mastery – how can you create the disciplines for better self-control?

Either excellence or mediocrity can become a habit. Which would you rather create?

Excellent health would give you greater energy to train and do the things you want to do each day. Excellence in emotional mastery would mean more self-control and self-confidence.

Both daily disciplines and daily errors are compounded over time, and it is your responsibility to make sure they’re adding up to something valuable. This is why we believe in the pursuit of a challenging, worthy goal like Black Belt, both for you and those around you.

Strive to bring out the best in yourself and others through constant and never-ending learning, on and off the mat.