So opens the season of gratitude. Naturally in the “abundance is king” U.S. we mark the occasion of that first meal with those unsuspecting natives by scarfing down an obnoxiously large one complete with alcohol, topped off by an array of desserts capable of triggering sugar highs for days. Sometime during the eating, football watching and holiday planning frenzy most of us manage a moment or two to think about how good we have it, how lucky we are.
It’s a day for giving thanks, after all.
All through the autumn I’ve seen Gratitude Challenges in social media posts — someone took the do-able ten days of writing down three things and made it longer and more involved, which is nice but (to my mind anyway), just a bit too much. Like nuts on a sundae — they’re good, but you just don’t need them. In fact, I’ll have to admit a profound gratitude when the daily posts of some of my FaceBook friends ended. Though I’m certain this was not the intention, most of these posts came off like bragging about how much you have or showing off how incredibly insightful you are.
Not to mention what all that gratitude does to people who are sincerely convinced they have nothing in this whole world to be grateful for. That’s a very dark, lonely place to be. A place where hearing about other people’s glories is not very helpful. If you know someone in this place, reach out to them — let them know you are there, you care. Try to offer the idea that no matter what the circumstances or events of the past, no one deserves to suffer, there is always something, a tiny spark of goodness in every life.
Acknowledging our blessings is only one piece of the puzzle. Another essential part of gratitude is being content just where you are. Not wanting (for the moment) more of something… achievement, money, a relationship. What you have is truly good enough. Feel that, acknowledge it, be glad of it.
Our modern world offers so very few chances to do this… to just be grateful for where we are today. To slow down and experience things. This is not a bad thing, in fact we might be surprised to find how nice it can be. To enjoy the simple joys of life. Companionship. The beauty of nature. The warmth of a fire. Maybe if we all stopped counting success in terms of tasks checked off a list, and more as the number 0f truly wonderful experiences we have, we’d be a lot better off.