How often do you stop during your day and count your blessings? If you are like me, not often enough. I leave my home in the mornings, get in my car and head out for my full time job. Those three things alone (home, car, and job) are enough to be thankful for the way things are going these days.
For some reason, most of us choose to spend our valuable time griping about what we don’t have, rather than being thankful for what we do have. This lack of contentment drives us in a never ending search for bigger homes, nicer cars and a higher-paying job.
Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with a little ambition. It is perfectly acceptable to strive for a nicer place in life, but it should not be the driving focus of your life. Your current circumstances should not give you an inferiority complex. After all, most of us have probably all been in the same place at some point in our lives.
A while back I wrote about how blessed we were to have a home. I mean truly blessed. I have started looking differently at our home these last few months. When the nights were cold, I was thankful for a warm shelter for my wife and kids. During April showers and thunderstorms, I was reminded how nice it is to have a safe, dry sanctuary from the storms. And with so many losing their homes, or forced to move from rentals, I’m grateful to have a permanent spot to call home.
I Could Be Walking
I feel the same way about my vehicle – a high-mileage, ten year-old SUV that’s just recently started showing some wear. Is it my dream car? No (that would be the new Chevy Silverado – yes, my name is Jason and I have truck fever). Does it get me to and from work safely? Yes. Is there enough seating room for both kids? Does it have cool air conditioning and a nice radio? Yes.
That’s much more than I can say about my last vehicle – a twenty year-old van with a weak AC, no radio, and only two seats (making it impossible to take both kids anywhere). And consider, I could be walking.
Even routine things like eating a meal provide opportunities to count our blessings. Sure, we can bow our heads and run through a memorized blessing before taking a bite, but how often do we really stop and think about how lucky we are to have that food in front of us? I mean, how many of us have actually known real hunger?
I don’t mean “it’s almost 8:00 and I haven’t eaten since lunch” hunger. I mean real hunger. Like “I haven’t had a bite to eat since Sunday, and that was only a bit of rice” hunger.
Think of all it took to harvest the food you eat, ship it to market, provide you with the means to pay for it, prepare it and deliver it to your dinner plate. It’s a complex process, and our abundance of choice and quantity makes us all truly blessed.
Yet, rather than be grateful for having something to fill our growling bellies, how often do we complain about the taste, the price, the quantity, the doneness, etc, etc?
The bottom line is that it is good practice to get in the habit of counting your blessings. Over the past few months I have started applying this type of thinking to my everyday purchases and interactions with money.
Are You Better Off Than Your Parents or Grandparents?
I often compare my situation to that of my parents and grandparents, who lived quite happily on much less than I do. When I bought a new pair of shoes recently I was reminded that my grandfather often went barefoot in the summer because his folks couldn’t afford shoes for all the kids. This was the rural south in the Depression – even shoes were a luxury in the summer, and often the early winter, too.
When I bought my first home at 32 years-old I felt old for a first-timer, until I remembered my mom didn’t own her first home until she was nearly 50, and only got to enjoy it for a few years before passing away at 54.
When I was commiserating with a friend about finishing his degree online, and remembering how I toiled to finish my own degree as a non-traditional student, it occured to me that I was the first college graduate in my immediate family, but not by choice. I was the first to have the opportunity to finish school.
So the next time you complain about a meal, or long for a designer purse, or are envious of your neighbor’s new Mercedes, just remember all you have to be thankful for – count your blessings.