By David Joel Miller.
If you are too grateful, might you be spoiled?
This is the time of year that those of us in the United States of America (North) celebrate a holiday called Thanksgiving. Why we need to restrict our thanks to one day escapes me. I know that those of you in other countries may be thankful on other days, some of you may even be thankful on more than one day a year. I think we here in America may have so much to be thankful for we just might be spoiled. I am convinced I am.
One thing that recovering people do is make gratitude lists. They should do this regularly, list out the things that make them grateful, but especially on Thanksgiving it is helpful to know what we are thankful for.
So often these lists are lists of things we have, not things we are. Do you have to own a lot of stuff to be grateful? How many square feet does your house need to have for you to be thankful?
Here are some of the things that I am thankful for this year, listed in no particular order.
I woke up this morning instead of coming too.
An old-timer told me this one. Any morning you wake up is a good morning. There are people all over the planet who may or may not regain consciousness this morning. I am so lucky to be among those who woke up.
I live in a house.
You don’t have to go very far to see people who are living on the street or under bridges. Here in America, the richest country on earth, we still have homeless. Some of you are unhappy because your house is not the size you want or in the place you want it. There are days I have felt that way, but seeing people who don’t have any home makes me think I am a little spoiled.
My house has a roof.
There are people whose houses are made of sticks or thatch. That’s not so bad. There are people whose roof is a cheap blue tarp or a freeway overpass. My roof keeps the rain out. I am so lucky.
I have running water.
My running water does not require me to go to a stream or make a trip to a well. There is no pitcher or jug that I have to pour from to make my water run. I turn the tap and out it comes. Presumably it is safe and palatable. There are people who don’t have running water and the water they do have is not safe to drink.
I feel so spoiled, having clean water any time I want it.
My house has windows.
I can see out and still the rain is kept out. I know there are houses in this town, not far from mine, who have plywood nailed up on their windows. Some people have cardboard in the holes.
I am told that some people only have holes in the walls to look out, if they even have walls. I am so fortunate to have windows.
I have electricity and gas heating.
Not only do I have electricity but it works most days. There are people who don’t have electricity. There are others whose idea of electricity is to run an extension cord over a fence or next door and plug into someone else’s house. I don’t have to do those things and the lights are on any time I want them, no lighting fires required.
Lots of people had their power interrupted recently by a huge storm. My heart goes out to those who had to wait days, even weeks to get the power back. All that while I was safe and warm in my home with the power on.
I feel so ungrateful that any morning I want I can turn those lights on. Sometimes I realize I did not give thanks today for having electricity and heat. How spoiled can I be?
I can read and write.
In places all around the earth there are people who are not able to read or write. The prisons are full of those who can’t read at grade level. We here in America take education for granted until we see someone in another country who is willing to risk their life for the chance to learn to read.
I even own some books and a computer so I can surf the web and read things whenever I want. Some people only get to read what their government wants them to read.
I am blessed with so much to read that it would be easy to complain that I have too much – until I think that too much is a better alternative than too little.
I am free to come and go as I please.
I am not incarcerated. I have freedoms other people on earth only dream of. When I think of how valuable these freedoms are and how rarely I think about them, I feel like I must be spoiled from having so much.
If I don’t like the rules or the rulers I can vote.
My vote does not always go to the winning side. Sometimes I wonder if my vote makes any difference.
But I keep reminding myself there are people who are not allowed to vote, for whom the outcome of the election is decided before they ever go to the poles.
I have a job and they pay me to do what I do.
Sure I would like to be paid more. I don’t like the idea of pay cuts any more than anyone else. But think of this, each day I get to go do something I like to do and they pay me for doing it.
There are lots of people out there today that wish they had a job, any job. I feel so spoiled by the idea that they pay me money for the work I do.
I can pay taxes.
It would be easy to complain about my taxes. Lots of us do. No one likes to have high taxes, but the alternative, to have a government that can’t do the things we want it to do, that is not acceptable to me.
So while I don’t like ever higher taxes, I feel blessed that I make enough to be able to pay some taxes and still have enough left to get by on.
I have people in my life who care about me.
I will keep this short but every friend in my life is a blessing for which I am grateful. You know who you are. I include all my readers in this also, you like what I write enough to keep coming back, which makes me feel privileged to have your ear from time to time.
I could go on and on but enough is enough. Those are some of the reasons I feel blessed, grateful, thankful, and yes even a little spoiled on this one day of the year we are supposed to be thinking of things that make us thankful.
Do you have things on your gratitude list that make you feel blessed, thankful or even a little spoiled?
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books