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Reflections on Gratitude

“Whatever our individual troubles and challenges may be, it’s important to pause every now and then to appreciate all that we have, on every level. We need to literally “count our blessings,” give thanks for them, allow ourselves to enjoy them, and relish the experience of prosperity we already have.” — Shakti Gawain

The devastation and tragedy that has and is continuing to take place in Haiti has really forced me to put my life in perspective.  I’m typically someone who tries to show my gratitude every day, but like so many other people, I can often let the most trivial things bother me.  In the grand scheme of life, this is not OK.  In taking some time to pause and reflect on my life, I have come to truly appreciate just how lucky I am.

After reading an inspiring post by Ashley on Daily Goods earlier, I couldn’t help but start coming up with a list of all that I am grateful for in my life.  I encourage everyone who reads this post to do the same.

This is my list.

1. Roof over my head

I have a place where I can be safe at any time.  This roof protects me and my loved ones from the sometimes harsh outside world.  When the weather is cold, I can be cozy and warm.  When the weather is hot, I can cool down.  I have doors and windows that lock making me feel secure. Many people do not have this. There are places in the world, including your very own city, where people do not have a place to protect themselves.  They face all weather conditions.  They face dangerous situations when the sun goes down.  Some are not even protected by a roof and four walls.  There are people who at any time can have their houses bombarded by tyrant governments and militias. I am grateful.

2.  Clean water

I have filtered water through my refrigerator.  And if I didn’t have this, I could buy a filtration system.  And if I couldn’t afford that, I would at least have water running through the faucet in my kitchen, which I could boil on my stove top.  Many people do not have this. There are places in the world where people have to walk for miles and miles just to access water, not clean filtered water either.  They must carry this water back to their homes in order to boil it for safety.  Many people die because they do not have access to water at all.  I am grateful.

3. Abundance of Food

I not only have food stocked in my fridge, freezer, and pantry; I have healthy, organic, and natural food.  I have access to local farmer’s markets and organic grocery stores.  I also have a chain grocery store that sells unlimited food directly across the street from my apartment.  If I’m making a recipe and forget an ingredient, I am able to get it in less than 5 minutes. I have a choice in what I eat.  Many people do not have this. World hunger statistics are scary.  1,021,110,977 people are under-nourished, 13,789 people have died of hunger TODAY, 412,966 people have died of hunger this YEAR (note it’s mid-January), and 63,694 tons of food were wasted in America TODAY (Source).  Keep in mind this number is growing.  Check the stats later today and you will be blown away. I am grateful.

4. Ability to Smile/Laugh

This one might seem silly, but think about it.  If you’re reading this, it means you have access to the Internet, which means you have the ability to watch funny videos, read funny websites, or laugh at funny pictures.  There are so many opportunities to smile and laugh throughout our days.  Whether it is a compliment received, a message from an old friend, or funny show on TV, I can not count the amount of times I smile or laugh each day.  Many people do not have this. There are people battling depression and other mental disorders which cause a heavy and deep sadness in their hearts.  There are people who are in actual physical pain every day, from battling various diseases.  There are people whose problems are SO big that smiling seems near impossible.  Although I am a firm believer that your mindset can change your life, there is no doubt that smiling and laughing are luxuries and come easier to some of us than others. I am grateful.

5. Pets

I look at our cats and can’t help but feel happy.  Knowing they were all rescued from lives that were not so great keeps my heart light.  We are able to provide them a comfortable home , homemade food, play, and lots of love.  Many animals do not have this. So many animals are confined in dark, dirty, and crowded crates.  Both domestic and animals used for food.  Many are not provided with proper nutrition.  Many never know what love feels like.  Many never live out a full and vibrant life.  Many live out their shorts lives with abuse and torment.  For the ability to care for my beautiful babies, I am grateful.

6. Transportation

I have a vehicle that gets me everywhere I need to go.  If that vehicle breaks down, I have friends who could give me a ride.  If they were busy, I have access to public transportation.  I live in a world where planes, boats, and trains can take me to new, exciting places.  I have two legs that allow me to walk should all other transportation fail. Many people do not have this. There are people who have no legs or do not have the ability to use them.  There are people who don’t own cars that can take them far distances.  There are places with no public transportation.  There are people who live their whole lives in the same small space due to these factors. I am grateful.

7. My Health

I fuel my body with nutritious foods.  I can work out at a gym or go for a walk outside.  In comparison to so many others, the little pain I may feel on occasion is nothing to complain about.  I have no diseases that plague my body.  If I were to get sick, I have the resources and people in my life to help me get better.  Many people do not have this. Millions of people suffer from mental and physical diseases.  Every day brings new challenges.  Some people live the majority of their lives in a hospital being poked and prodded with various medical tools.  They may be forced to take drugs and go through procedures that in turn make them feel worse.  They may rarely experience the beauty of the outside world.  Others do not even have access to health care, forcing them to experience a long, lonely and painful battle. I am grateful.

8.  Community

One thing I’ve learned from blogging is that there are a whole lot of people out there who can help me become the person I want to be.  I’m able to read others’ stories, get to know them, and ask them for advice.  I can become good friends with people who I’ve never even met in person and who live 1,000s of miles away.  I live in a city with groups for any and every kind of interest and hobby.  Everywhere I look, there is some group of people able to help me achieve my goals or provide me with companionship.  Many people do not have this.  There are people who live isolated lives and must achieve their goals without the help of others.  There are people who are so judged by the outside world that they never find a place where they feel accepted.  And there are even those who do not have access to the Internet and therefore never get to experience the powerful impact that millions of others around the world can have on you.  All they may ever know are their immediate surroundings.  I am grateful.

9. Ability to Help Others

I am able to volunteer my time and donate my money to others who are not as fortunate as I am.  I can spend time with someone who is feeling lonely.  I can lend an ear to a friend who is going through a hard time.  I can use my creativity to create things that make others smile.  Because of the amazing opportunities I have been given, I am able to give to others.  Many people do not have this. In a world with so much turmoil, there are people who have to focus all of their energy simply on making it through another day.  When survival is your main priority, it’s nearly impossible to be able to help others.  And like they say, in order to help others, you first must help yourself.  I am grateful.

10. Being Able to Make Mistakes

Yes, you read it correctly.  I spent my whole childhood trying to be perfect and learned very little about myself.  Living on auto-pilot and doing the “right” things to make others happy is no way to go through life.  I am grateful for every rash and stupid mistake I’ve ever made since those times.  As hard as some of the lessons may have been to learn, they helped mold me into the person I currently am.  I transferred schools on impulse.  I’ve blown money and credit cards on things that really didn’t matter.  I quit jobs that didn’t immediately satisfy my longing for something better.  While I don’t consider these all mistakes now, I did at the time.  Although they put me through difficult times, I know they all happened for a reason.  Many people do not have this.  For some people, a mistake may mean being abandoned by your family or loved ones.  It may mean criticism and feelings of worthlessness.  For others, a mistake might mean you can’t get something or someone you love back.  And for some, a mistake can mean the end of their lives. I am grateful.

11. Fiancé

From my impulse decision to transfer schools, I was able to meet the love of my life.  I get to spend every day with someone who loves me more than the world, as I love him.  I have someone to sleep by my side on dark nights and someone to cheer me up when I’m having an off-day.  Many people do not have this. There are people who search their whole lives for their soul mate and never find them.  There are people who are married, but who are not truly happy or satisfied.  There are people who are in love but unable to share equality by law or unable to openly show their love due to harsh judgment.  There are people who are in abusive relationships with no escape.  There are people who must be apart from their loved ones for months or years at a time.  And there are people who have lost the love of their life.  I am grateful.

12. Family and Friends

I have family and friends, who despite many of my crazy decisions, love me regardless.  I know that no matter where my life takes me, whether good or bad, I have their undying support.  I know that were I to lose everything tangible in my life, I would have a place to stay filled with love.  Many people do not have this. There are people who have lost their whole families to a tragedy.  There are people who have been disowned by their families.  There are people who were given up at birth or a later point in their lives and forced to create their own family.  Some people never experience a family at all.  There are even people who still have family around, but a family that is unwilling to help them or show them love. I am grateful.

13. Freedom

As much as we like to complain about the government and the “restrictions” in our lives, the reality is we have it made.  We have the freedom of choice.  If we’re not happy with something, we can fix it.  We have more luxuries than nearly every other country in the world, and as much as we like to blame big business and big government, the truth is that it is our individual choices that make the difference.  If we really want change, it starts with ourselves.  We can’t depend on a few people to make us happy.  The more we focus on that, the longer it will take to make progress.  And if we do become that unhappy with our country, we have the freedom to move somewhere different.  Most people do not have this. Many parts of the world are ruled by governments that severely limit individual freedom.  There are millions of people who live in some form of slavery.  There are places where women are still viewed as objects, rather than equal individuals.  There are people who do not have freedom of speech and could be killed for writing the way we so freely do on our blogs and in our books and magazines.  I am grateful.

14. My Mind

The mind is perhaps the most powerful thing we have as individuals.  Regardless of your situation in life, the mind can transcend you to a very different time and place.  The thoughts we think have the power to transform our lives.  We are able to think intellectually with it, as well as create masterpieces.  The minute I changed my thoughts from constant complaints and negativity was the minute I literally set my life on the most inspiring path.  Many people do not have this. There are people who have suffered brain damage from accidents or disease.  Their entire personality may have been changed from such an occurrence.  There are people who live their lives as “vegetables” unable to effectively communicate or even think the numerous and amazing thoughts that once filled their minds.  By losing the ability to think, they have lost the most powerful trait we have as humans.    I am grateful.

15. The Air I Breathe

Were I to lose everything I just mentioned and still have the air I breathe, it would mean I still have a fighting chance.  So long as I am alive and breathing, I know my journey is not yet over.  Every time I inhale and exhale represents more life I have to live.  And believe you me, I will do everything in my power to continue living such a rewarding life.

I AM GRATEFUL.

I hope you enjoyed reading this.  My hope is that it got you thinking about some of the people and things you are most grateful for in your own life.  Although I am grateful for many, many, many more than 15 things, I believe these are the foundation.  Remember to seize every opportunity that enters your life and never take what you have for granted, even if it doesn’t seem like much.  I truly believe that as you start to show appreciation for what you have, the more you will start to receive.

So look around and smile.  And know that where you are now is exactly where you are meant to be.  The thoughts you have now will create your future, so focus only on what makes you happy and never settle for less.  Take chances to live out your dreams.

With this I also wanted to leave you with a link from Google listing some of the many ways you can help the victims in Haiti.  Even if you, yourself, do not have a penny to your name, you can spread the word by posting on social networks, tweeting on Twitter, blogging about it, or telling those around you.  Everything little bit helps!

Here’s the link:

WAYS TO HELP HAITI

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4 Responses

  1. Amazing post. It truly is important to take time to reflect on these things.

  2. You are the most beautiful person I have every met and I am grateful just to know you.

  3. You never stop amazing me,I too am thankful for all I have,My love, Chris and Ashley and you and Dustin and now Lauren and Jay.You are beautiful and rich in love and life and thanks for helping me be more positive in my life.
    Thankful to be your mom!

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