Recently someone has shown me the following video depicting nutritionally-empty mud cookies being made, sold, coveted and consumed by people in a society where food is extremely scarce. It reminded me of an old saying, “I cried because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet”. We in the West are revolving in a stressful reality we ourselves have created and are often feeling like we can’t ever reach the place we want to be. It helps to slow down and consider how lucky most of us are.
Here are some things you can be thankful about today. Perhaps not all of these apply to you personally, but most of us can be grateful for quite a lot.
Ability to see, hear, walk, and think — those of us who have had one or more of those abilities impeded, appreciate immensely the world of opportunities good vision, hearing, mobility, and reason give us to experience life. Enjoy beautiful music and images around you. Cherish being able to go for a walk in nature, surrounded by green leaves whispering in the wind.
Fresh drinking water — recently-threatened by climate issues and overzealous corporations, most of us take it for granted.
Fresh air to breathe — consider people who work in a coal mine or live near heavy industrial areas. If you are able to walk outside your door and take a deep breath of crisp fresh air, you are fortunate. If you can enjoy a sunset without a smoke halo, drink in the view.
Ample food — many people in Western societies have an abundance of food, so much so that we are wasting 40% of the food we have. Appreciate every morcel of fresh, delicious, nourishing real foods.
Roof over your head — we have removed ourselves from the harsh realities of the weather, be it freezing cold, suffocating heat, soaking rain, or bone-piercing wind. If you have a shelter, be thankful for it.
No censorship on literature — coming from Soviet Russia, I vividly recall the echo of Samizdat and the value of rare banned books. Appreciate the availability of printed information on many points of view.
Human rights, liberty, informed choice — although implementation is somewhat behind the theoretical tenets, we do have many liberties and rights that are not present in other societies.
Way to contribute to community — we have many ways to help each other with resources, time, skills, and compassion. Lending a hand at the time of need is a powerful stress reliever and can bring satisfaction and sense of meaning.
Leisure time — most of us are not working over 10 hours every day of the week and do not have chores that take up all of our time. We can choose to spend our leisure time on all kinds of intellectually and emotionally stimulating endeavors.
Loving partner, parent, friend — most of us have at least one person in our life who supports our ventures, helps us at times of difficulty, and shares our joys with us. If you are lucky to have such a person in your life, cherish that relationship and express your love and gratitude to them often.
Healthy, happy children — those of us who have dealt with difficult times in our children’s lives know how uplifting and joyous is the time when everyone in the family is contentedly playing, learning, and laughing. Do not take those times for granted. Speak softly love to your children.
A welcoming home — if you have a home you love and care for, appreciate that many people live in places that do not feel like home to them. Coming back after a tiring day at work, smile at entering your abode. There is a Russian saying: “At home, even the walls heal you.” A welcoming home recharges us and helps melt our stress away.
Fertile garden — if you have ever grown your own herbs, vegetables, fruit trees, or flower plants, you know how rewarding it is to watch the green life unfold and bloom, and witness the fruit grow and ripen. Cherish the bounty that comes from the land: not everyone is so lucky to have access to fertile land and water.
Step back and look at your life from an outside perspective of people who are not as fortunate to have what you have. Focus on the positive. Rejoice in the things you have, develop a gratitude ritual, and you will find that less significant things do not shake you up as much.