We have so many things happening in our lives that I suppose the idea of a day when we reflect on the good things makes a certain amount of sense. However, it seems a bit of a shame that, as a society, we don’t stop to think about our blessings more frequently.
Some of the folks I hang out with are prone to having get-togethers with a gratitude theme. There is a discussion, with each person taking a turn and expressing the things in their lives for which they are especially thankful. On other occasions, when I was allowing life to get me down, it was suggested that I ought to make a “gratitude list” to help me concentrate on the positive aspects of a life that has been, overall, not only decidedly positive, but in some respects absolutely miraculous.
Those of us who have lived on the outer edges of existence — whether through physical sickness, mental illness, poverty, addiction, war, or combinations thereof — are perhaps a bit better-equipped to recognize the extremes than most folks. That, alone, is a lot to be grateful for.
They say that we have to have experienced unhappiness in order to appreciate joy. While that might depend, to a degree, on our definition of joy, it is nonetheless true that a life lived on an even keel can seem pretty unremarkable when, in fact, the benefits of such a life are unimaginable for billions of people elsewhere (and perhaps nearby) on the planet. Thanking a supreme being for such a life is the same as saying “We’re glad you love us more than all those people you have allowed to live in poverty and misery” — hubris by nearly anyone’s definition.
And, yet, isn’t that sometimes our attitude? Do we not take the position, tacitly, if not openly, that we deserve the things we have by virtue of some sort of entitlement? That we are in some way chosen? That we are just the least bit better than all those other folks, or else we would not have been so blessed?
Some people say that we’re only as big as the smallest thing that can annoy us. I say that as a society we’re only as rich, spiritually, as the poorest of those among us, and that spiritual development must include development of a sustainable global economy with a decent standard of living for everyone.
Even if some of us have to settle for a little less.
Before it’s too late.
Before we run out of things for which to be thankful.
Because, no matter what we have been led to believe, we’re really not that special.