5 Things You Forget to be Thankful for

It's been another stressful year for everyone. I don't need to tell you why. You already know what I'm talking about. Thanksgiving is right around the corner again. If your family hasn't gone back to normal yet, the holidays are probably going to be a headache again. Are we going to see out-of-state family? If so, are we going to fly or drive? Are we going to socially distance when we get there? What if grandpa doesn't keep his distance? Regardless of your plans, November 25th will still happen with or without family.

A tradition with my family is we share what we're thankful for in the past year. I've been thinking about what I want to say. There are many things people are typically thankful for, but I would like to offer a step further in this difficult year. What else can we be thankful for?

People are Unhappy

Studies show people have never been more unhappy and more lonely, corresponding with the rise of technology, social media, secularism, and the polarization in politics. Forget about the pandemic for a moment. The epidemic of loneliness and unhappiness can be greater indicators of an unhealthy long-term life than smoking or obesity.

There are a few antidotes most of think of right away: having a good community, exercising, and spending your money on others. Another antidote to modern unhappiness is practicing being grateful. You've probably heard this by now since it's become a movement of sorts. Gratitude Journals have become pretty popular and there's bound to be a gratitude chapter in most self-help books that have been published in the past 10 years.

When people write in their gratitude journals, I think they tend to write about three main things: material things, their relationships, and their job. When we think about what we're thankful for, sometimes we think about what we have that others don't. "God, thank you for a warm bed and the roof over my head, a loving family, and a secure job." I think that's a good starting point. Indeed, we should be thankful for these things!

I think we could be taking it a step further though. Here are five things you should remember to be thankful for this year.

1. The Small things

Small things are small. Obviously. But there are many more small things than large things, so they add up faster. There are many more average days than beautiful days. Many more ordinary dinners than fancy. Many more trips to the grocery store than to Fiji. Many more squirrels than elephants (at least in the U.S.). What if we figured out ways to delight in these small, ordinary things?

Sounds lame at first, but trust me. Life starts to become extraordinary when you enjoy the ordinary.

"Lord, thank you for the gift of the invention of the dishwasher."

2. God's Creation

Like I said, delight in squirrels and rainy days. There's beauty in both! But don't stop there. Delight in landscapes, the incredible size of the universe compared to atoms, the rules that God made, revealed by physics and chemistry. I was so delighted during my Intro to Physics class, I usually would quietly say "Wow, that's amazing!" and my peers would awkwardly chuckle or roll their eyes. Delight in all of these things because they're all an expression of God. I look at squirrels and birds and think/pray, "Wow. Of all the things God could have made, He decided to make that!"

Delight in people too. They're God's creation. Delight in an outgoing personality and a quiet temperament. Thank God for the different strengths, gifts, and talents you see in others and in yourself (a good antidote to jealousy, comparing, and envy). Delight in a handsome man or beautiful woman (without lusting, of course). Delight in someone for the sake of that person just being that person! As I said before, all are an expression of God.

"Wow God. This person is amazing in their own way and I see it. Thank you for making this person."

3. Good Health

This one I can personally relate to. I am a healthy individual. Aside from bad astigmatism, I don't have any preexisting conditions, I love being active, and I think vegetables are delicious. However, one spring, I got sick and I was in bed for two weeks straight because it was too painful to move. Let that sink in. Two weeks straight of being unable to do anything because of pain! Finally, I went to the hospital and got surgery to cure my pain. I woke up and I was pain free! Suffice it to say, I never looked at good health the same way again.