On Gratitude…

As we take a break to celebrate Thanksgiving, I am struck by the fact that gratitude is an understated virtue.  It is an internal, chosen, and valuable characteristic that I don’t see enough of in the world.

Now, it’s clear to me that this fact is often made abundantly clear with regard to the youth of our country: “These young people are so ungrateful.  If only they knew what we had to go through” is a nice example of this.

But I truly feel like this is a more universal problem – we just aren’t very thankful for anything we have.  I can’t imagine living 50 years ago, when “technologically advanced” meant an electric guitar or a color TV.  I look around me and I see a 50″ plasma TV, an electric fireplace, electric dishwashers, a compact stereo system, and a notebook computer.  50 years ago, a computer was still a physical and financial behemoth.  Now, the average American can work anywhere, anytime, on anything. 

But, as is the American way, we want more. The phone I got 3 months ago is out of style now, so I’m going to drop $600 on an iPhone.  Or my TV isn’t big enough, so I need to upgrade to the 72″ version.  Such is the nature of our society today.

My lament is simply this: why can’t we be grateful for the amazing things we do have?  Why can’t I be thankful that I have a roof over my head, good people who care about me, food in my belly (often too much)?  Why am I so insistent that I need something else? 

I think this connects to my previous post on happiness in that “contentment is the one thing it entails” (Relient K).  In order to be grateful, we must be content with our situations in life.

But enough rambling.  My only reason for posting in the first place is just to ask that you say thank you.  Tell your parents, “Thank you” for doing their best to raise you.  Tell your friends, “Thank you” for being there for you.  Tell your teachers, “Thank you” for working their butts off to give you choices and opportunities in your life.  Tell your colleagues, “Thank you” for making work a more pleasant experience.  Say thank you to the people that have an impact on your life. 

And try not to eat too much on Thanksgiving…but whatever you do eat, be sure to thank the chef.


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