Lynn and Doug Nodland

Doug and Lynn Nodland

Do you enjoy Thanksgiving Day? We certainly hope so, but sometimes it’s not so easy. Embracing what comes with nature’s colder season, the holiday season and even life’s seasons can be challenging. Let’s look at how we can be thankful for each of these seasons.

Nature’s seasons: This morning the weather was cold, wet and grey. It would be easy to stay stuck in the mindset of “yuck,” this weather is awful — and guess what — then the rest of the day can seem being pretty awful, too. Remember, what you focus on grows, whether it’s positive or negative. Actually, there are probably many good things happening, but our mindset can ignore them if we are in a negative mood. So, to feel better, we can reframe the negative to focus on the positives of the day and see that there’s much to be thankful for.

When we look at the seasons of nature, we realize that there’s much for which to be thankful. Spring has the excitement of new growth. Summer has sunshine and daisies, fall has many colors of leaves and winter gets a blanket of white glistening snow. Each season has its good days of weather and its not-so-good days. Kind of like life, isn’t it? Some good days, some not so good, but when we focus on the good, we’re thankful for life.

Holiday seasons: We know that for some people the holiday season and Thanksgiving are difficult. There might be an empty chair because someone passed away or sometimes families are split by disagreements and divorce. Some people dread the holiday and can’t wait for it to be over. They fear that someone will bring up divisive subjects that can upset people and spoil enjoyment of the meal and the day. Someone said, “Be sure to bring up politics at Thanksgiving to save money on Christmas gifts.” Not a good idea!

Yes, negative things can happen but what if everyone tried to take the attitude of acceptance, forgiveness and, especially, of giving thanks? Wouldn’t that make for a much more pleasant day? If a family member or friend has passed, it may be helpful to be thankful for the time spent with that person and the happy memories.

If there are possible disagreements in get-togethers, it helps to avoid subjects that might be embarrassing or divisive. And, consider forgiving people when they slip up and say something that isn’t right. Try to keep the focus on enjoying the holiday.

We hope these ideas are helpful to make the day pleasant. And here’s something to help make the whole year more pleasant. Jeff Herring talks about “ThanksLiving.” We’re suggesting that we be thankful not only on Thanksgiving Day, but that we actually commit to being thankful each day by adopting a ThanksLiving Way. The ThanksLiving Way means living each day in a thankful way.

Life’s seasons: As far as the ThanksLiving Way, our mothers taught us some good life lessons. My (Lynn’s) mother tried to always be thankful as the seasons of her life changed. An avid gardener, she enjoyed planting and was thankful for her big garden of flowers and vegetables. Eventually, she had to give up the garden, but she still gave thanks for the potted plants and herbs that she grew in her home.

Then, when she spent much of her time in bed, I asked her if she missed gardening. She told me that she was thankful that she could still garden. I asked her how she was doing her gardening. She said she was thankful that, just by envisioning it, she could plant whatever she wanted on the hillside outside her window and enjoy “her special garden.”

Also, when Doug’s mother has a bad day, she always says that tomorrow will be better and she’s always thankful. We are thankful each day that our mothers taught us to see each season of life with imagination and thankfulness — the ThanksLiving Way. A Hausa Proverb says, “Give thanks for a little, and you will find a lot.”

What about you? What are you thankful for and how can you live in a ThanksLiving Way?

Some ideas: We encourage you to embrace each season and even each day, by noticing the many things you are thankful for. Whether you are facing the seasons of nature, holidays or life, they can be more enjoyable when you adopt the ThanksLiving Way. We want to wish you Happy Thanksgiving and let you know that we are thankful for you!

Chanhassen residents, Doug and Lynn Nodland are success coaches and owners of The Balance Center. Doug and Lynn can be contacted at More information and videos at


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