Thanksgiving and the Power of Gratitude

Updated: Oct 14, 2020

I am thankful that I have a warm, dry place to sleep at night in a safe neighborhood. I am thankful that I live with my best friends and our loving dog Mooki.

I am thankful my parents live ten minutes down the road, and despite the constant battle of aging, are relatively healthy. I am thankful my brother is pursing his passion in medical school, fearlessly constructing the life he has imagined.

I am thankful for my many friends who constantly reminded me that there is nothing more worthwhile than our relationships. I am thankful for my leisure which gives me ample time to read, and for the great men and women of the past who took the time to distill their world view onto the pages which fill my days.

I am thankful for the “Purple Circle,” the team within the team, whose relationships are the crowning achievement of my efforts in Jiu Jitsu.

The political state of this country leaves many justified in their worry. We cannot turn on the news without witnessing some crime of hate, vengeance, or ignorance. Worldwide, many experience hunger, disease, poverty, and the vilest of human motivations acted upon the unfortunate.

The world has never been more connected and yet we are becoming increasingly estranged from our fellow man.

All this is true. All of this is heartbreaking. All of this is deserving of our collected concern and efforts. But, on the whole, considering the many moving parts to a society, I think we do a pretty damn good job.

We must remember that nature is, in the words of Thomas Hobbes, “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Every living thing imposes its will onto every other. The world is a marketplace vying for energy in the preservation of matter.

Being at the top of the food chain we forget this, becoming overly consumed with our problems which reside at the upper echelon of human needs. The opportunity to struggle with meaning and purpose is a blessing reserved for the few, the small subsection of the history of humanity in which we find ourselves.

Every single one of us has our own pressing concerns, stresses, and uncertainties, but we must learn to view our “problems” against the contrasting solutions which pervade the majority of our lives. It is because so much goes right in our day-to-day lives that we cling to that which goes wrong.

It is our abundance which illuminates scarcity. Our certainty which highlights small pockets of uncertainty. The common positive experiences with others which juxtapose the troublesome few.

Acknowledging our blessings does not remove our troubles, but it gives us an emotional anchor to steady ourselves in the stormy seas of the modern world.

I have chosen gratitude as my core operating system, constantly searching for the gifts from grace which familiarity makes difficult to see. The capacity for gratitude is the safeguard against suffering, serving as the immune system of the mind. Gratitude, like all virtues, is a skill which must be practiced, and we are each surrounded by countless blessings toward which to direct our appreciation.

The quality of our lives is contingent upon our ability to practice gratitude. One simply cannot feel anger, resentment, or jealously during this practice.

This simple truth leaves me with one more reason to be grateful: that which most determines the quality of our lives is that over which we have the most control.

In the face of a finite existence, rapidly approaching its end, this is all the comfort I need..

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