Who says you still can’t learn things at 26.
We ran an article this week about what one Muheim Memorial Elementary School (MMES) class was thankful for.
The process was pretty simple: we had students answer a number of questions about gratitude — important stuff.
But there was one specific question that stumped me for a second: why is it important to be grateful?
I think most people can acknowledge it’s important to be appreciative of the things they have in life.
A roof over your head.
Friends and family who love and care about you.
A cat that leaves your feet danging off the side of the bed looking like they’ve been through barbed wire.
The not-so-little things.
But while I would say the overwhelming majority I know are grateful, I am not sure how many of us have actually sat down and thought about why it’s important to be grateful.
For me, it’s because it gives me perspective.
When we acknowledge things that we’re lucky to have in our lives, it does two things.
First of all, it makes us more cognizant of the fact that others do not.
Not in a cynical or competitive way, but to acknowledge that you’re appreciative of healthy drinking water is also to acknowledge that the reason you have to be grateful is because this is not a given; there are, in fact, people who don’t — or who have to walk kilometres every day just to get it.
But being grateful also makes you more appreciative of the relative importance of things.
You can be grateful for your new plasma TV, it doesn’t mean that you need it.
Likewise, I’ve found through my own trials and errors that if you’re a grateful person in general losing more luxury material goods — a new fancy TV that breaks or a car that gets into a wreck, for example — might not phase you as much, because you’re able to acknowledge the relative importance of things in your life.
A place to live, for example, is much more important than just about anything you can put inside it (aside from electricity, food and water, some other basic necessities).
Maybe that’s the difference between materialism and gratefulness: an acknowledgement that the base necessities in life are just as important as the luxuries of Western life that we are all lucky to enjoy.
I want to end by saying that just like it’s important to be grateful, it’s also important not to be too hard on yourself and to be forgiving — the two go hand-in-hand.
We all make mistakes, we all do things we regret. Sometimes these things can’t be changed, but often they can.
Maybe there is someone you haven’t called or something you’ve been putting off doing because the action itself scares you. I know it can be scary to face these things but think about the alternative and how you’d feel if something happened that wouldn’t let you ever change things.
Is that how you’d want to leave those conversations? Or those actions left incomplete?
It’s Thanksgiving. Soon it will be Remembrance day. Shortly after that, Christmas.
Time for thankfulness, for remembering and for sharing the holidays with your loved ones.
Whatever you have to do to make that happen, do it.
We are seven billion or so individuals on a rock travelling 67,000 mph around a giant flaming sphere in a corner of a galaxy we know nothing about and that very possibly is devoid of intelligent life aside from (arguably) ourselves.
Eat some chicken — and don’t be so hard on what you or others have said or done in the past.
You’ll be grateful you did.