Cultivating Gratitude

Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted. – Aldous Huxley

“It’s all very well to read about sorrows and imagine yourself living through them heroically, but it’s not so nice when you really come to have them, is it?” – Anne Shirley

Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Canadians!

Celebrating this holiday in October was a bit of an adjustment for me when I first moved up here. Growing up in the US I had always just assumed that everyone observed it at the end of November with us and so at first it was sort of strange to have Thanksgiving a few weeks before Halloween.

Traditionally this has been a time to reflect on everything in life for which we are grateful. I loved being with my maternal grandparents at Thanksgiving as a child and young adult. Not only was the table laden with all sorts of good things to eat, my grandfather was always almost painfully grateful to be surrounded by happy, healthy family members each year. He grew up in rural Ohio during the Great Depression and World War II. As a young boy he was in an awful accident when a wagon he was riding in collided with a train. Many of the other children on that hay ride died that day. One family buried all four of their children.

I don’t think we will ever truly know what deep impressions those experiences left in him, any more than I could step into your shoes or you could try on someone else’s life experiences for a time.

It makes me wonder how we can be grateful for what we cannot imagine happening. I’ve always had a roof over my head, a loving family, a warm place to sleep, a belly full of food, and medical care when ill. Intellectually I know that a day could come when I don’t have access to some or all of these things but it’s hard to imagine a life without any of it.

Gratitude seems to me to be a process of realizing that not everyone has these things and that we could easily be one of those people if it hasn’t happened already. It isn’t an easy task and definitely cannot take the place of actual life experiences, but it does stretch one’s mind and help us (or at least me!) not to slump into assuming everything good in life will always be there.

Once again I will end this post with a few questions. What are you taking for granted today? For what are you grateful?


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5 Responses to Cultivating Gratitude

  1. Twyseschoch

    and a happy thanksgiving to you and Drew!

    I tend to take my health for granted, until something hits me. Even a small cold virus upsets my life, and then I remember that there are people who are feeling unwell every day of their existence. And I don’t know how they can live that way.

  2. Aaron S

    I take food for granted, especially the availability of healthy food. As far as world-wide standards, I’m pretty damn rich, and I have huge amounts of food choices available to me, yet, I still snack on lots of unhealthy garbage.

    • Anonymous

      I do the same thing. In the last week or so I’ve been making a real effort to eat healthier food and exercise every day. Treats are ok…just not all the time.

      I’m also trying not to waste food. We’ll see how it all goes.

  3. teresa

    Several years ago our well went dry. We had ‘some’ water but at times there was no water when we wanted it. We bought drinking water and didn’t use the dishwasher. We had to conserve. We didn’t get to take showers every day and when we did, it had to be very, very short. You wet down, turned of the water, soaped up, then turned it back on to rinse. Even flushing the toilet was an issue. The cost of a new well was not in the budget so we were making due as we saved up the extra $$.
    I am always grateful for running water and still try to be conservative in our use. And I try not to forget, and take it for granted!

    • Anonymous

      It’s funny that you mention this. My apartment building has shut off our water about once a month for the past several months for maintenance and repair work. Each time it has only been a day or less, but it still shakes me up (in a good way) when I turn on the faucet and nothing comes out of it!

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