To be thankful is to be appreciative or aware of a benefit, to be grateful. To be grateful is to be deeply appreciative of the kindness or benefits bestowed upon you. Am I grateful every day? Do I express how much I appreciate my blessings every day? More importantly, do I express how grateful I am for the people who impact my life?

To only express thanks on Thanksgiving is to disrespect the life you’ve been blessed with. My daily acknowledgment (or lack thereof) of my blessings speaks to who I am at my core.

Do I only express thankfulness and appreciation for blessings on special occasions?

If you live in America (or another first-world country), you’re blessed… period. If you’ve never experienced true poverty or another form of disadvantage firsthand, you have a privileged (and perhaps ungrateful) perspective.

Fred Bailey, the founder of Children Are People in Gallatin, spoke at a YMCA Prayer Luncheon, and he hit the nail on the head in that regard. He said, “I was born poor, black, and blind, but I’m still the advantaged, because I was born in America.” If these words aren’t powerful enough to make you evaluate how you view your life, I pray you will be enlightened one day.

Sure we can be thankful for our million-dollar homes or our fast cars, but are we thankful for the cheerful, welcoming, wagging tails that greet us when we get home? Are we thankful for the unconditional love expressed for us in the simplest ways? Do we express our love daily through simple, thoughtful actions? If we don’t express our unconditional love and genuine appreciation for others and for our blessings on a daily basis as a loving puppy does, we’re doing it wrong…

We feed our puppies. We care for our puppies. At times, we scold our puppies, but we would never intentionally hurt them. In our lives, we tend to hurt those closest to us, even those who did nothing to deserve poor treatment. Whether we do it by prioritizing other things or people above our loved ones or by blatantly disrespecting them, none of us perfectly express our love and gratitude for the important people in our lives. We hurt others by not acknowledging they are meaningful parts of our lives, parts of who we are.

But there is hope! Once we’re aware of our lack of thankfulness, gratitude, and appreciation, we can change our ways, our behavior.

Everyone we interact with shapes and reshapes our worldview, our perspective; we affect theirs as well. Whether this affect is positive or negative is up to us.

Those unappreciative coworkers we bend over backwards for might cause us to have a more cynical view of humanity. Maybe they’ll come around if we continually maintain a happy demeanor through adversity. Be appreciative of their work, even if it’s completed one month behind schedule. ‘Killing them with kindness’ might slowly get through to them. Be grateful for your association with these people, because you’re employed. Choose to appreciate your employment rather than gripe about difficulties.

Our encouraging, positive mothers might give us hope for a better tomorrow and therefore the energy to face our challenges today. Do we express how grateful we are for her actions and for her comfort?

People who flash big smiles at strangers might keep someone going for just one more day. Do we smile back or do we scoff at this act of kindness?

Do we intentionally share joy with others through simple actions? Do we show how thankful we are for the chance to interact with people for just one more day on earth? Do we actively demonstrate how grateful we are for the people who directly or indirectly mold us into who we are? Are we grateful for each day we have an opportunity to create a better world for ourselves and for those around us? Are we grateful for every day we wake up?

I challenge you (and myself!) to express thanks, gratitude, or appreciation for someone (or at least something) in your life every single day for the next year. If we grasp how lucky we are to have been born in America, it should not be hard to express thanks for 365 days. We have clean, running water for God’s sake! (And, hello… we have easy access to the Internet!) Not everyone can claim the same! If we consciously choose to express thanks, gratitude, or appreciation every single day for the next year, I’d be willing to bet that next Thanksgiving would have an entirely different meaning to us. We’d remember why we’re so blessed to live in this great nation (or a first-world country aside from America). We’d realize how blessed we truly are and how unappreciative we’ve been in the past. We’d be much less cynical and much more full of love.

Let’s strive to be more like puppies… Let’s instantaneously forgive. Though it may not be from a tennis ball or a dog bone, let’s find joy in simple things. Let’s express how grateful we are to be in the presence of our loved ones. Though it may not be through sloppy kisses or wagging tails, let’s express thanks and love for the people in our lives on a regular basis. Let’s love our lives, along with everything and everyone in them. Let’s live like puppies for 365 days. Then this may just become regular behavior…

Happy Thanksgiving,
Allison Isaacson

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