…Reflections on being thankful despite it all
I recently stumbled on a gratitude challenge I participated in on Facebook seven years ago. It lasted for seven days and I had to share three things I was grateful for on each of those days.
I was quite happy looking through all of the twenty-one things I shared. Some of the very obvious ones were being grateful for life and waking up in good health. Also, being thankful for having a supportive family and having wonderful friends that I could count on. There were some other light ones like being grateful for technology which I admitted being addicted to (and I still am) to being grateful to God for my sense of humour. Being able to see the bright side of almost any situation was something I have had to learn and grow into as I used to be an extreme worrywart.
And then the one I considered the funniest was thanking God for my afro. So, I used to have a full head of hair until I decided to get creative with it. At the time, many of my peers already had thinning and greying hair, and I was far from that (I still am, lol). I just had a good laugh reading that, however, reflecting again, nothing was too mundane to be thankful for. That is an attitude I have taken on to date.
I didn’t just have to share three things daily for seven days, I also had to tag seven people on each of those days and it was not easy. I know you are probably thinking “this guy get time o” but let’s just say I was (or maybe I still am) into social media challenges and games.
Anyway, I remember wondering which seven people I would tag every day and boy was it hard! How was I going to determine who to tag, out of all of the people on my friends’ list? I eventually decided, over and above, that my core criteria would be selecting people who I valued and was grateful for our friendship. Not all of them took the challenge though but it was a nice way for me to express my gratitude.
That one week spent participating in the gratitude challenge helped me to think deeply about the things I considered most important in my life. Those were the things I was most grateful for as I realised I may have taken some of them for granted.
Thinking back to the present, I have had to ask myself the same question: what am I grateful for? What are those things that I look at and remain thankful for realising that I most likely did not earn or deserve? What are those things I am likely to overlook for whatever reasons?
Maintaining an attitude of gratitude helps us remember that we are nothing by ourselves. That our very existence can be influenced by the people and circumstances around us. That there is a supreme being who is in charge of the world. How often have we wanted to do something and realised that no matter how many people we knew could support, there were elements we could not influence? And when those things came to fruition, we knew it was not by anything we did?
Every time we remember something to be grateful for, we forget about ourselves and our interests and open ourselves up to being more considerate. Expressing a heart of gratitude can also make us happier and less fearful.
A few years ago, someone started another type of gratitude challenge but this time, it involved a gratitude jar. You would write down the things you are grateful for on a piece of paper and then place them in the jar. Then, at the end of the year, you would have found a year’s worth of reasons to be thankful. I haven’t done that but I think it’s a nice move.
Unfortunately, not everyone maintains this attitude. Some people take things or people for granted, probably assuming that they would always have what they need or that they could always reach out to their network if they can’t get what they need by themselves.
It is easy for us to assume that gratitude should be expressed for only that which we have or that which we have received but we also need to remember that we can be grateful while waiting for that which we expect but haven’t received. Being grateful should not just be contingent on what we have, it should be a permanent state of mind.
It’s Thanksgiving in the United States, and I love the fact that they remember to take out one day in the year to express their gratitude. People come together and share their reasons to be grateful whilst celebrating with one another. It’s nice but let us also remember that every day can be Thanksgiving Day, and as we give thanks, we find more and more reasons to be content with what we have whilst being expectant for what we look forward to.
Things may not be as we expect but as we often say, “when there is life, there is hope” and being alive is one thing we should be grateful for. A thankful heart creates a thankful home and thankful homes create thankful societies, this is the way I see things today.