Even though we’re not always inclined toward empathy and generosity or to live out our best ideals, perhaps the biggest blessing we all share is that we live in a world where so many people really do care for one another.
Here in the United States, we’re just days away from the traditional Thanksgiving holiday. And this year, because the date for the celebration falls so late in the month, it won’t be long after many of us have gorged ourselves on turkey and dressing that the Christmas season will be upon us. Because much of the world is experiencing economic hard times right now, it’s tempting to think that there’s not too much to feel good about. But in an article for Reader’s Digest, 10 Reasons to Be Thankful, John Tierney points out that when you stop to really think about it, there’s still a lot for which we can be truly grateful.
One of the things Tierney points out is that despite our current difficult times, we have plenty of material comforts. We have abundant supplies of manufactured goods, clothing, and most especially, food. In fact, instead of worrying about what we will eat, most of us are waging a daily war against obesity. While it’s true that in some underdeveloped areas of the world shortages are common, for the most part, human beings live in an age of unprecedented abundance.
Most of us are also living longer, healthier, richer lives. Advances in medicine, the ready availability of information to improve our lifestyles, and the availability of social support structures, have all enhanced the quality of life and have made living in our modern age a genuine blessing. In fact, the biggest factors contributing to the ailments from which most of us suffer stem from our tendencies to over-indulge ourselves on the things that aren’t really healthy for us and to take too little advantage of the healthy alternatives that abundantly surround us.
Another blessing Tierney reminds us of is the time we have for fun and leisure. Although Americans work more average hours than those in some other industrialized societies, we still have approximately 5 hours per day of free time to enjoy the fruits of our labors, our family, friends, and our favorite pastimes. This compares with an average of 6 1/2 hours per day that other societies have available for recreation and leisure.
While there are notable regional conflicts and incidents of terror and violence that make headlines, the world is largely at peace. And even though it requires our constant efforts to preserve and expand it, the peace most of us enjoy is indeed a blessing. We can also be grateful to all those who risk their lives, welfare, and fortune protecting and preserving that peace.
Many of us have also re-discovered the treasure that lies in family and friends. Because we’re such inherently social creatures, there’s no blessing more valuable that the support and love of those for whom we care. And in recent years, more of us have been discovering the benefits of reaching out and extending the nature and quality of our community involvements. A life rich in relationships is an abundant life indeed.
This is the time of year when we take the time to count our blessings. It’s also a time for doing what we can to assist those who, for various reasons, might not be as fortunate. And even though we’re not always inclined toward empathy and generosity or to live out our best ideals, perhaps the biggest blessing we all share is that we live in a world where so many people really do care for one another and make a special point of demonstrating that care at this time of the year. Maybe we can all make a pledge that this year, in addition to counting our individual blessings, we will strive to do our part to confer the blessings of peace, care, concern, support, and comfort to as many others as we can.