The term thankful has been sorely misunderstood.
Gratitude, appreciation, thankfulness – you hear and believe you exhibit such notions daily. Yet people have begun expressing these terms with a catch. These words are utilized only after one is first given something. A helping hand after slipping on an icy road. The remaining candles needed for a loved one’s birthday cake. A neatly plowed driveway after a snowstorm.
Folks say it to end conversations and agreements. They utilize the phrase of thanks when it’s merely relevant. The quality of true appreciation has lost traction in everyday conversation. Sadly, the need for true, raw gratitude remains. Yet it’s been lost to a sea of ignorance.
Counting your blessings is now only thought about once a year. November, to be specific – in the U.S., anyway.
Saying thanks is commonly said indifferently.
Imagine meeting someone new. You’re introduced to this person, exchanging awkward greetings and a sweaty shake of the hands. But when this new acquaintance smiles you notice an emptiness. A blank vastness that creeps from behind their eyes and displays clearly on their face. This person isn’t truly interested in meeting you. He is merely going through the motions.
That uninterested person with the blank stare? Their emotionless reaction is how lost we have become. It is how absent the true meaning of being openly, unabashedly grateful has grown.
Realizing the good in your life at this time of year is wonderful. But why shouldn’t the notion be given more thought? Why can’t we relish in the true meaning of gratitude over the course of our lives?
People often lose sight of their surroundings. They put on their metaphorical goggles and live their life looking straight ahead. Ignoring the blessing of peripheral vision, they simply go through the motions, only stopping when a roadblock creeps up onto their intended path.
This isn’t necessarily a voluntary act, nor is it true for everyone.
Due to unforeseen hardships or a rough past, looking beyond the present is never easy. Ridding yourself of those goggles to see the world for what it is can be intimidating when facing debt or a broken radiator.
If this describes you or a close loved one, don’t despair.
This notion likely hits home for a greater percentage of your peers than you realize. Like most things in life, you aren’t alone. No matter what those metaphorical goggles have coerced you into believing, others are facing similar issues. Your peers are dealing with almost identical conflicts to those you’ve encountered thus far.
Perhaps you’re one of the lucky few – a selfless individual with a solid grasp on the world. Maybe you value and understand the significance of counting your blessings. It’s possible you say thank you with an honest sense of the phrase’s truth.
Unfortunately, a great deal of people have lost this vision of gratitude. They have involuntarily forgotten what being thankful truly means.
So what if I complain. Why does it matter?
Folks with a newborn child complain to their peers about their baby’s incessant crying. The monitor goes off like clockwork – 12, 2, 4, and 6 a.m. Always the same. These new parents spend the first few months after their child’s birth tired, unkempt, and unmotivated. Handling a new baby is no easy feat. But before rushing to their defense, consider the value these parents have.
The person they vent to may have lost a child through miscarriage or a terrible accident. Or, perhaps even more tragic, another may have recently discovered her inability to have children. Yet another who lives countries apart from his son would simply love to feel his child’s embrace.
This couple may face a seemingly endless strand of sleepless nights. But the blessing they have is unmatched. Life is never easy. Yet the ability to watch your child grow is a wonder in itself.
The moral, here? Be thankful for what you have. Before complaining, try looking past your immediate concerns. The significance of your life and all within it is often hiding under your nose.
Another source of frequent complain arise from work issues. Most everyone can relate to the incessant grumble you or a coworker lets out in the break room. And yet business stress is inevitable – it comes with the job. You’re bound to feel it. Regardless of your passion for the gig, you will face difficulties. Would it really be a worthy profession if you weren’t challenged in some way?
The most frequent work complaints are about actually going to work. Being guilty of this is common. But when you feel this way, take a step back. Consider what you’ve been able to achieve. Think about the successes you have relished that others may regard with envy.
Dan, your longtime neighbor, just lost his job. After his wife passed a year ago, that position in itself supported both himself and his three children. Your cousin Margaret – a recent graduate from a prestigious university – can’t find work in her field. She’s tried for months. Yet after applying for countless positions, including a rather large sum below her abilities, she is yet to hear anything back.
You may dislike your job. For one reason or another, your days at the office may feel stifling and just a tad uninteresting. But your professional situation may be invaluable to someone facing employment conflict.
Unhappy with your job? Change it. Apply to a different company. Dip your feet into a more complex position at your current place of employment.
Worried about getting older? Mulling over what this could mean for your future? Before complaining about wrinkles, consider how incredibly blessed you are.
Due to terminal illness and tragic accidents, many aren’t given the opportunity to grow old. Life ends quicker than expected. Those on their way to a wonderful career in engineering are drafted by the army to face a brutal enemy. A football star loses his opportunity to play in the NFL after a deadly hit-and-run accident.
Be thankful for your age. Consider your wrinkles a token of honor. You have been blessed. Living well into your 50s and beyond is still unheard in some parts of the world. Pass on your understanding of gratitude to others who have yet to acknowledge its true meaning.
Be thankful. You have more than you know.
Try considering the glass half-full. Discard those dreary, empty thoughts. Be thankful for all you have. Complaining will only get you so far. And you’ll only be poorer for it.
By spreading your unhappiness, you could take another down the same rickety path. Remember – there are others who wish for what you have. What you consider normal may be viewed as a gift by someone else.
Rid yourself of your goggles and take in your surroundings. Only then will you realize the truth. Yes, your issues may be significant. But another may be worse off.
Don’t reserve counting your blessings to once a year. Learn the meaning of being grateful. Show your appreciation rather than simply saying it. Your loved ones will notice the difference. It may take effort, but eventually you will gain an accomplice. With enough determination, the rest will follow.
All it takes is one strong, steady voice – strive to be that person.
You have more support than you know. Thank those who aid you. Help those who need it most. One day, with a little luck, everyone will seek the truth of real gratitude. On that day, the world will be viewed with the light it deserves. On that day, people will be thankful for the right reasons.
Until then, show your appreciation when possible. You never know who your voice will influence.