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A Grateful Life

by: Hanna Elizabeth

 With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I want to talk about something that means a lot to me. Gratefulness. I have been to a ton of thanksgiving dinners with a ton of different people/families over the years, but you know what I’ve rarely seen? I’ve rarely seen a family go around the table and everyone say what they’re thankful for. Yes, there is prayer (sometimes) but is that really enough? One person saying thanks for everything doesn’t seem to me to be in tune with what the holiday is really all about. Yeah, we’re thankful for the food but is that enough? 

Maybe my perspective is messed up because I was raised without holidays, but I just feel like our gratitude shouldn’t be limited to a single holiday or a single aspect like the food. What are we REALLY grateful for? Sure we’re grateful for jobs, family, friends, food and a roof over our heads, but do we recognize and be grateful for the little things that make the world go around?

Are we grateful for the little miracles that happen every day like water running through streams, the animals that drink that water and then become our food? Do we recognize the miracle of the sun and the rain how they balance out each other out in order to make things grow? We seem to be able to recognize that, when we’re without sun or rain, but where is that feeling of gratefulness when there is plenty of both to go around? Are we grateful? Do we even see the dragonfly that eats the mosquito, which makes our lives a little less itchy? See what I mean? There are so many examples!

People tend to just go about their busy lives and forget that life is really happening all around them, whether they ‘see’ it or not! Heck, the fact that we’re alive at all is a miracle! The fact that we have air to breathe is a miracle! So, we take one day to be ‘thankful’. Big whoop! How about living from a center of gratefulness? How about living from that place instead of getting so caught up in the rat race that all else doesn’t matter? Instead of getting angry in traffic, at the traffic, at people who are just trying to do the same as you, how about taking the time to be grateful for the clouds, the sun, the wind, the rain, and yes, the people too? This isn’t a one-time thing, once a year on a specific date. We should be grateful for our solar system, our earth, for providing everything we need to live, every day, with every breath.

Instead, we pollute space with our junk and the earth with our oils, toxins and heaping mounds of our waste. We spray herbicides, create genetically modified crops that kill the land, pollute our streams, cut down our rain forests; when are we going say enough? When are we going to go back to honoring the earth instead of taking from her without any regard for the consequences?

The American Indians honored the earth. They said thank you to the animals they killed for giving up their spirit, their life force, in order to feed the tribe. We say thanks to someone for preparing a turkey and some sides. Do we ever consider thanking the turkey itself for giving up its life to feed us? How about the farmer for raising it? The land for feeding it? Maybe we’d be a little more aware of the small ‘miracles’ around us day in and day out, if we did.  I’ll step down off my soap box.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think everyone is ungrateful, spoiled, and always want more, but there are enough out there that being someone who does notice the little things, who does thank the cow who gave up its life in order to feed me, who whispers thank you on the rain for helping our crops grow, who basks in the wonder of the sun and feels the earth breathe beneath me, to feel like the only one. In fact, I’m blessed with wonderful family and friends for whom I’m deeply grateful. Personally however, I’ve vowed to make this Thanksgiving even more thankful. I’ve vowed to make this Thanksgiving different, after the prayer has been said,  I’m going to stand up and thank the turkey for giving up it’s life to feed us. I’m just going to do it and see what happens. I figure the worst that can happen is that people think I’m more crazy than they already do. The best would be if they shared something that they’re grateful for too. I’m not out to change tradition, but I believe perspective can change and when our perspective shifts- the world shifts a little too. If you want to do something to help put yourself in a more grateful frame of mind every day, try starting a Grateful Journal.

Write down one thing every night before you go to bed that you’re grateful for, it can be anything, big or small. Try to come up with something new for each entry and you’ll be amazed at how your day starts to revolve around the idea of what to write each night.
Have a wonderful Holiday Season!

Hanna

Photo credits: Worradmu, Louisa Stokes, Adam Hickmott, Evgeni Dinev, Idea Go

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