Over 30-years ago, a friend told me a story. I’ve never found a source. A rabbi asked his congregation to go to the worry tree and place every difficulty and worry they had on the branches of the tree. He then asked the people to walk around the worry tree until they find some troubles they like better than their own. After several rounds, the people gradually pick up their own troubles and go home – preferring their own worries to those they observed.
It is so easy to get caught up in the worries and troubles of life. To become so preoccupied with them, that we miss out on good things around us. And we miss opportunities to serve others. This certainly happens at work.
We worry about getting promoted, instead of focusing on the opportunity we have to make a major contribution through coaching and developing others. We fret about the quirks of our co-workers, and fail to encourage them to bring their gifts and strengths to the table.
We whine about our few vacation days, instead of bringing some fun and joy to the work of the moment. We study the failings of our bosses, instead of figuring out what we can learn from them and asking for counsel.
What would happen if we actually left these worries every morning on the worry tree and went back to the work at hand with a different perspective. A perspective of serving others – a perspective of gratefulness.
This week in the United States we celebrate Thanksgiving. It is the simplest of holidays – a gathering of family and friends around a delicious meal and a theme of giving thanks. It is a beautiful anecdote to troubles and worries of our work lives. A day where we focus on others and gratefulness.
As we approach this holiday, I would suggest that Thanksgiving is a holiday we might want to celebrate more often. Perhaps daily. For when we observe the good things in life and in people, and give thanks for them, our troubles and worries seem smaller and less important. And to other people, we appear less absorbed with ourselves.
“Reflect upon your present blessings – of which every man has many – not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”
We all have worries and troubles – big and small. This week let’s hang them up on the worry tree and serve others with a spirit of gratefulness.