What am I thankful for? I actually hate that question.

I don't hate asking other people the question, but I hate trying to come up with my own answer.

I think it is because the privilege of my job, day in and day out, is to talk to people about the most crucial moments of their lives.

Often my guests are people who have not only lived through circumstances that I can barely imagine, but they have survived those circumstances and reached a higher place within themselves that makes them able to share their stories publicly.

I marvel at the commonality among the stories. It seems that no matter what situations these people have survived, they always talk about being thankful in the end for their lives as they are.

Common themes in personal stories of thankfulness

Acceptance and thankfulness seem to go hand in hand. Today, Thanksgiving Monday, on the show we heard from a woman who had a devastating car accident twelve years ago.

It left her paralyzed from the chest down. She was pregnant at the time and her son survived, along with her 20-month-old daughter, who was belted into the backseat.

Cherisse Griffin today is a single mother of two and a town councillor in Teulon, Man., who loves to travel and works in real estate.

Cherisse Griffin is also a person who, before her accident, thought she would want to die if she lost her ability to walk.

She told me that. Griffin now says that she is thankful to be alive; "You have to focus on the positive, not the negative, or it'll eat you up."

So what is it about some people that allows them not to be eaten up?

Being thankful a choice

I'm starting to believe that the answer lies not only in the acceptance of one's life, but in the acceptance that there is a choice to be made.

A choice to either lament the loss of the path that you wanted to walk or to walk on the path in front of you.

Let me tell you about a few more of the people who have taught me a great deal about the value in living this idea.

There was the little girl burned by napalm during the U.S. war with Vietnam who grew up to travel the world and talk about her experiences.

She told me that she loved her scars because they allow her to spread the message of peace to audiences across the globe.

She now shows those scars to children who have been injured in wars today to give them hope to move on.

There was the man who survived a Bosnian concentration camp where he was responsible for shovelling the bodies of his dead friends into a fire, as guards laughed.

He told me about one day when he was looking to the sky while he was a prisoner, and he realized that others were free at that very moment, looking at the very same sky. That thought was enough to get him through. 

Today he has put together a book about his experiences.

There was a mother who brought her five year old son to the studio and described how his cancer would make his little body so exhausted that he would walk with the gait of an old man before his blood transfusions.

The day that they joined me, he had just had a transfusion and was swivelling in the studio chair and playing with the microphone.

She was thankful for blood.

Thankfulness just part of the answer

I've met people who live on the street, eat through tubes, can't read or write or get out of gangs, but I am not sugar coating it when I tell you that they were all thankful for something.

So, what am I thankful for?

Some of you might expect me to say that I'm thankful that I've met these people and I've gained some wonderful perspective that allows me to be blissfully accepting of my own path, no matter what comes my way.

That however, is only part of the answer.

I am absolutely thankful for the people that I meet everyday. That is true.

I am absolutely thankful for the perspective that their stories offer all of us. That too is true.

I am not, however, blissfully accepting of my own path and challenges: at least not without struggle.

And so for me, here's what it comes down to on this Thanksgiving Day...

I am thankful that all of the people who have shared their stories with me have also been honest.

They have taught me that being grateful is not always easy, but if we pick one thing to fight for in our lives, figuring out how to be thankful is a pretty safe bet.

What are you thankful for?

@cbcmarcy @cbcinforad