Be thankful year-round!

By Chief Sam DiGiovanna

Well, is your stomach full? Pants a bit tighter in the waist? Thinking of going on a diet? Thanksgiving has come and gone. As I get older, it seems we just celebrated Thanksgiving a few months ago. This past week most of us have been thinking about where I am going, who’s cooking, I’m on duty, eating turkey and pie, vacation, or how to avoid certain family members.

But that’s not the way we should view Thanksgiving as a holiday where your relative or fellow firefighter cooks a meal that took them a full day to create and only 10 minutes to eat. It should be a day to reflect and continue to be thankful year-round.

Attitude or Gratitude

Gratitude as a religious value teaches us that we are obligated to thank God for our lives every day we wake up. We are to be grateful for the meal we enjoy; for every evening we spend in our homes which shelter us from the elements; for the clothes we wear; and for the relationships which add depth and meaning to our lives.

Not to mention, we are part of one of the best careers ever, the fire service! Think back to when you were trying to become a firefighter. You’d do anything to become one. Did you lose your spark? Rekindle it! Developing an attitude of gratitude takes so little effort, yet many of us need a refresher course on how to reignite what we have.

Next stop Christmas

Be grateful. Take time to forgive others. Take time to relax. Don’t overschedule yourself.  Build some extra time into your day so you can talk (and listen) to family and friends, enjoy your meal and genuinely for being together.

 Stop and take note of the things in your life that are good, instead of focusing on the current – and often inconsequential – things that seem to be going wrong. The administration, pay raises, assigned to a new station after the first of the year. Stop the whining, the blaming and think of all you are blessed with.

If you don’t it can become a bad habit and even an addiction if you don’t take stock of the good things in your life. Don’t take anyone or anything for granted.  You are not “owed” anything. Whining and complaining doesn’t change a thing.

Another party?

When you are in the midst of a pity party, you might want to try some of the following tips to remind yourself just how much you have to be thankful for.

 • Stop and Smell the Roses.  Take some time out to acknowledge the good things in life.  Take the day off and do something fun, take a bike ride or a walk to enjoy the beauty of nature.  Look at the world around you from a different angle.

• Do Something for Someone Else.  If you are focused solely on your own problems, one of the best ways to break the cycle of negativity is to go out and do something for someone else.  Volunteer at a foodbank, cook dinner for an ailing neighbor or help with a community project.  The point is to change your focus and do something good for another person.  These types of activities can radically change your mood and put your own situation in perspective.

 • Talk About the Good Things in Life.  Even if it feels awkward, say something positive.  Break through the barrier of negativity that you are trapped in.  Vow to say something positive at least once a day for a week.  You likely will be surprised by the power of your own thoughts and words on your mood.

Like you, I am blessed with great family members, loyal friends a great job as well as the opportunities God has provided me in life. I appreciate the people who have worked with and for me over the years. You should to. Even your agency’s management, immediate supervisors, and coworkers. Be thankful. You could have it worse. Think of the calls you’ve responded on within the past month. Still feel the need for a pity party?

 In short, we can always find something to be thankful for. That’s the humility we should become familiar with. Whether or not you believe in God, realize how blessed you are. Don’t wait, don’t procrastinate. Start right now and be thankful!

 Contributing credit: Michael Berk

Sam DiGiovanna is a 40-year fire service veteran. He started with the Los Angeles County Fire Department, served as Fire Chief at the Monrovia Fire Department, and currently serves as Chief at the Verdugo Fire Academy in Glendale. He also is a consultant for &