>> Thursday, November 26, 2009
I know Thanksgiving is often described as true American holiday. Whether that's true or not (the timing fits with several cultures' harvest celebrations), I think the notion of counting one's blessings and being grateful for what one has is very healthy, even if stuffing one's face to oblivion isn't.
My aunt Sue described herself to me once as a peanut-butter-and-jelly-sandwich kind of gal. I.e., if she has a PB&J, she's happy. And she is happy most of the time, one reason why I enjoy time with her so much.
I'm a bit more demanding than that, but I think that the philosophy of concentrating on what one has rather than everything one does not is a formula that leads to happiness much more than the other. I think much of the anger and resentment of the world would evaporate if people took more stock of what they have rather than what they have not and saw more clearly how so much of the world survives - sometimes quite pleasantly - without so much of what we deem essential.
Anyone reading this is likely already one of the lucky ones. Chances are very good, you have reliable water and electricity. You have a computer and access to the world of information (good and bad) that comes with that. You aren't isolated. Hopefully, you still have a home and enough food that no one goes hungry at night. It's easy to lose sight of these sorts of blessings when one is struggling, perhaps with unemployment or illness, or the loss of someone special, or even the sense that you can't have as good a Christmas as you wanted. It's easy to forget this when you're beset by worries at work or a child with mental issues or bigotry or a relationship that falls apart.
I like to think I'm mostly happy, but, sometimes, I get down or frustrated or angry. I need these moments to remind myself how very exceptionally lucky I am, how grateful I am for my blessings. I'm lucky to have an interesting job I excel at where my skills are appreciated and that pays well, even in this economy. I have a home and a good mortgage (and with a bankruptcy behind me, that was in good measure due to finding a really good lending agent. Thank you, Tim!).
I have three beautiful, talented, intelligent and charming children who delight me. They are all healthy and happy. I have a husband I adore who is a devoted father and conscientious husband, who's smart and kind and fun-loving, who genuinely cares about my happiness, who even gets involved in writing. He is also young and happy and healthy. No one in my house suffers hardship or deprivation. I have two beautiful tailless cats who knock everything off all the surfaces of my house, but let my baby daughter poke and prod them without complaint.
I have the time and capacity to write, something that gives me deep and abiding pleasure. I am heavy myself, but I'm quite healthy, too, and am taking steps to stay that way and get even healthier. I live in a world that accepts my intelligence as natural, where my being a woman doesn't have to make me a second class citizen (which is not always true). I have access to medical care and have good medical insurance - many people do not.
The bottom line is that I have everything necessary for happiness. And I have quite a bit that isn't even necessary, but that I have anyway.
May everyone else find blessings as profound as mine in the near future.