Thanksgiving brings with it an important time for reflection. A time when we can slow down and turn inward to reflect upon the life we are leading. Many people even find that while doing this they realize that they have many things to be thankful for. Some they may not have even realized.
Often privileges we do have and live with each day are right there, staring us in the face. We simply become so reliant upon these aspects of our lives that we take them for granted. But when asked to quiet the mind and reflect for a bit, most people are able to identify one, if not a few reasons they should be thankful.
Some families go as far as to place a pen and paper next to each plate setting so that individuals can reflect and write out their gratitude. They later share their responses with the entire table. Others simply take turns and openly share what has made them most thankful. And there are many other approaches to this process, depending on your family’s heritage and traditions.
If your family hasn’t adopted a fun way to help members identify what they should be grateful for, then you can participate at the end of this article. In the comments area. Below are seven areas to look toward when counting the blessings within each of our lives. One of these might speak to you as well, and help you realize what you are most thankful for this holiday season:
Family and friends – Some of you may be cringing, just thinking of your family or friends, while others can truly identify. It is true that we don’t get to pick our family but we do have some control as to who we choose to be our friends. So if you find yourself in a challenging relationship with a family member, then remember to be grateful for it. People are brought into our lives not only to challenge us to be better versions of ourselves, but to help support us too. So forgiving those moments when you were frustrated with your mother or chose not to communicate with your favorite uncle, well, is a big step. And an act very appropriate for this time of year. If none of the scenarios above speak to you, then make sure to give your family and friends some extra attention this holiday season. And let them know how good they make you feel.
Pets – Do you have a fury friend that goes with you and your family almost anywhere you venture to? Maybe you love reptiles and couldn’t think of a holiday without your favorite snake or lizard friend. Many families take in or purchase domesticated, and some undomesticated, animals that often become the bestest of friends. So if you are among the many individuals or families living with a creature you just couldn’t think of life without, then be thankful for them. This can also apply to any pets that might have passed on too. Be grateful for the time they spent with you and remember them fondly this season.
Home – Many people don’t have a three-story house let alone a studio apartment to call home. When we have shelter and indoor plumbing, no matter the level of upkeep, we often forget that there are many who live each day without this sort of luxury. This is why some people open their homes to foster children or for visiting soldiers who find themselves far away from their families. Orphanages like Bosthabelo or Charlene’s Place of Safety in South Africa have done this for countless displaced children and young adults alike. And there are many in the U.S. too. So count your blessings this season and be thankful for the running water and shelter you do have. Because many are living without.
Thanksgiving dinner – Whether you are hosting Thanksgiving this year or find yourself invited to another family’s table for dinner, consider yourself to be lucky. Many families struggle to even get enough food on the table in order to have three square meals, let alone a fancy holiday dinner. Food banks like the Greater Chicago Food Depository and various shelters and orphanages throughout the U.S. are often bustling around this time of year, with volunteers heading out to collect, prepare and hand out food for the less privileged living within our communities. So before you take a bite of your favorite homemade stuffing or some of your father’s mashed potatoes, be thankful for the food you are provided with and the people who have hosted you at their tables.
Employment – This year alone, there are more than 16 million people without jobs and the rate seems to continue to climb based on data captured by organizations like the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And if you are among the many who still have a job, then you might have been forced to work less hours or take home less then you were making years prior. Many will not receive bonuses this year, while work output and expectations have increased. If you are one of the people working in an industry that has not been affected by the economy, then count your blessings and be grateful for the work that you do have.
Health – How’s your health doing this year? If you are one of the many affected by the economy and currently looking for work, then you may have noticed your health has declined too. Some people experience episodes of anxiety or even depression when feeling less than confident about their jobs or financial standing. You may also have a friend or relative who is ill. The person with the illness might even be you. An imbalance in the body can lead to depression and a lack of self-esteem. Not only can this add to the negativity that you may already be feeling, but it can delay your road to healing as well. So if you are unaffected by some chronic aliment then be grateful for the health you do have. And keep those less fortunate in your thoughts this time of year. So they might be able to heal and be well again too.
The world – We live in a time when our technology is shrinking the world we live in. We now communicate with people from around the world in just a few moments. And are learning about the various colors to the rainbow of cultures that we live amongst. Whether you engage others over the internet or talk to them on the phone be thankful that we have these technological advances to put us all in touch. And to help us learn more about the world we live in. If you aren’t tech savvy, but want to learn about another culture other than your own, then look into attending a volunteer trip with a world relief organization like Building a Global Community. They can bring you face-to-face with other cultures, as you work alongside them.
Finally, where ever your life has led you, always remember to be thankful for the experience. Even if less than ideal. Not only during the holidays but throughout the entire year too. These journeys are what makes life worth living.
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