On the American holiday of Thanksgiving, we give thanks for a lot of things.
In developed countries, we’ve got food. We’ve got shelter. Even the poorest among us have access to resources and luxuries that were unimaginable only a hundred years ago.
Regardless of material wealth, most of us also have what’s more important: families, loved ones, and friends with whom we can share our journey through life.
But there’s one more thing for which we should give thanks, if we’re lucky enough to have it: an attitude of thankfulness.
Thankfulness means more than just appreciating the good things we have. It means looking for the hidden blessings to which we seldom give any thought:
- We have life. Whether we use it wisely or foolishly, for a short time or a long one, it’s our opportunity to experience and create joy. We can make a difference in the world. Every day that we’re alive is a new beginning; a new chance to do something amazing, something good.
- We have a wonderful world. Yes, the world has its dangers. But it also has beauty that invites us to enjoy it, explore it, and understand it. The dangers are part of the package. They challenge us to learn and to grow stronger. Without them, we would stagnate in mediocrity.
- We have each other. Nobody has to face life all alone. Yes, other people are often distracted or afraid of rejection, but we’re all here to help each other. If you believe in God, then you’re already ahead of the game: God is always with you, prepared to give you strength when you need it.
That’s how the Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving at Plymouth Rock in 1621. They thanked God for the good harvest and for the survival of their colony.
They knew that life could be hard. But they also knew that life was worth the hardship.
So be thankful for both the good things and the challenges in your life.
And give some extra thanks for thankfulness itself.
Check out my book Why Sane People Believe Crazy Things: How Belief Can Help or Hurt Social Peace. Kirkus Reviews called it “impressively nuanced … surprisingly accessible.”