Today marks Columbus Day in the United States (as well as other countries who pay it observance, such as Spain and several Latin American countries) and Thanksgiving in Canada. These holidays have shared the same date – the second Monday in October – for exactly 40 years, and considering that many people on both sides of The 49th Parallel have an extra day off from their day jobs as a result, today would be a great day to think on the spirit that these holidays were founded on.
There will be some folks who are well into their workday today despite these two holidays making an appearance, either because they aren’t from a country that celebrates them or don’t have the day off despite that. Nonetheless, spend some time thinking about discovery and gratitude and how much they play a role in your life – or much they currently don’t – and what you can do to enhance their impact on you and those around you.
Christopher Columbus is regarded as one of the greatest explorers of all time. While he had many reasons for dedicating his life to exploration, one of them struck a chord with me more than the others: the conversion of non-believers. By setting out to discover new lands that he believed were out there, he was able to prove to those who had no such belief that there were worlds beyond their small corner of the globe.
Discovery isn’t just something that can be done in a geographical sense. As individuals, we discover new things about ourselves all the time, especially when we push our boundaries. By exploring our own selves we are able to find things in us that don’t appear on the surface. These things can be small aspects of our personalities or skill sets, or can be huge awakenings that tap into something we never imagined we had in us. Regardless, we’re doing the same thing Columbus set out to do every time we explore the possibilities within us: we’re converting non-believers.
These non-believers come in all forms. They can be co-workers, family members, friends – even ourselves. In fact, it’s by converting our own limiting beliefs that enables us to continue to push further – discover more – about what we can do. Columbus didn’t just stop at one mass of land and wrap up his exploring efforts. He kept going, finding new places and new ways to get to places for much of his life.
His life’s work was discovery, and it plays a large part in your life’s work as well.
Let’s face it – we all want more of something. It doesn’t have to be materialistic in nature, but we’re always striving to get more of one thing or another. Again, Columbus didn’t just stop with one discovery, did he?
Yet we can get caught up in the “wanting” of more without being grateful for what we already have. As odd as this may sound, taking the time to show gratitude for what you’ve already received can actually help you figure out more of what you really want. When you’re showing gratitude for what you’ve got, you’re being mindful. You’re contemplating on things, and mindfulness comes with that. The deeper you go, the more mindful you’ll be. And when you get into that state, you tap into what you really want out of life.
I’ve found that by being grateful for where I’ve been helps me get clear on where I’m going. I used to look back at the workplaces I had with disdain and would kick myself for staying in those environments for so long. But when I really started to think about and be grateful for where I am now, I began to realize that where I had been had brought me here. Sure, I wasn’t a fan of what I had to do to get here, but if I hadn’t been through that then I wouldn’t be where I’m at now. That sense of gratitude allowed me to let go of my disdain and regret and embrace those experiences instead. The more often you do this, the better your outlook on the life you’ve led as a whole will be. You’ll appreciate the road you’ve taken just as much as the road you’re on right now.
Gratitude is freeing. There’s no negativity in it. If you ever want to get clear, get grounded and figure out where to go from here – be thankful for where you’ve been, where you are and all the things in between. You’ll be surprised where that will take you.
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” – Theodore Roosevelt
The above quote applies to both discovery and gratitude. With discovery, you’ve got everything at your disposal to make great inroads in yourself. As for gratitude, show it for all that you’ve had and have, and you’ll discover what you need to continue to flourish.
Look inwardly, thank outwardly and everything will seem much clearer. And there’s no better path to getting to where you want to go than a clear path.