Despite the chaos into which our country has been thrown with COVID (all the reverberations that have resulted from it, as well as those still to come) and our currently contentious politics, there is still much to be thankful for in one’s life, if we take the time to look closely and think about it.
Books. The ability to pick one up and disappear into another world, a different perspective, to learn new skills, or to develop different ideas about how to live. The gifts a great book gives of entertainment, gained empathy, interesting concepts to consider, and novel ways of thinking, are endless. Books can change ways of thinking. Books can alter lives. At the very least, they can offer fun distraction and escape for a bit.
The ability to step outside your front door and enjoy being outside. Whether the sun is shining or the smell of leaves is in the crisp air, or snow is swirling in the sky. All of this is nourishing to the spirit. Research has shown that spending time outside is great for us, emotionally, mentally, and even physically. Aim to spend a minimum of 30 minutes outside every day, regardless of the weather. Your overall health will thank you for it.
The feeling in your heart when someone you love puts their arms around and holds you tight.
The roof over your head. The fact that you have somewhere to shelter yourself.
Eating something delicious, whether it might be yogurt with berries and granola, a cheeseburger, a slice of pumpkin pie, eggs and bacon, an apple, Indian food, you get the idea. Food is a blessing and a delight.
Your health. Don’t take it for granted if you have it. Revel in the things your body can do, and better yet, do something with your body in order to maintain your health. Take a read through this article from The Atlantic about how being sedentary is bad for your emotional health during the pandemic (it’s also not good for your physical health). Looking for a couple of fun workouts? I love this African dance video, as well as this couple who does different workouts.
Your romantic partner(s), and the fact that you have a healthy, happy relationship with someone who loves and is there for you. This is significant, beautiful, and should not be taken for granted.
Friendship. The close social connections in your life. These can be and often are just as meaningful, just as emotionally close, just as loving as a romantic relationship is. Though our culture plays it up otherwise, friendship is equally as important, fulfilling, and wonderful as romances, just in different ways. Nourish these. Put effort and time into them. Speak to them on the phone regularly. Have Skype dates. Meet up for walks outside. You will be so glad you kept these connections alive. And, wishing you had a couple more close friends? COVID is going to be a tough time to try forging friendships, but still, try. Ask someone who interests you if they’d like to meet up for a walk in the woods or through the city. You can build a friendship by doing this routinely, until able to branch out and do other things again eventually.
Another one: your children. The expression on their faces when they look at you. The joy of playing and spending time with them. Their innocence of spirit. The way they can laugh easily and delight readily in life. Allow them to invite you into this way of thinking and being, even if only for a little while. Also, they need not be your own biological children to bring joy and fulfillment. I have loved several children over the years who were not my own and have developed emotionally significant connections with them that filled my and their spirit.
Beloved pets. They can also bring such joy, comfort, and warmth into our hearts and lives.
Words. The ability to speak and communicate with one another. The opportunity to speak your piece, to tell others your thoughts and feelings. The gift of poetry, stories, novels, comics, and textbooks. Jokes, humor, and the words we can use to connect with someone else and to bond over laughter and silliness. Words teach us. They can help heal misunderstandings. They offer wisdom. They can be strong or soft, tender or intense. Words are everything. They make up the framework of our lives, our work, our relationships, and our society. And they need not be spoken aloud. This includes the written word, body language, and even sign language.
A roaring fire, whether in a hearth within our home, or in a pit in our backyard, on the beach, or elsewhere. Fire is mesmerizing. It feels great to sit or stand closeby. It’s relaxing and peace-inducing.
Dancing. Even if you claim to hate it (and if so, I imagine this might be a shyness thing, as in, you hate dancing around others), moving your body feels good, emotionally and physically. Dancing does something in your brain and to your spirit. It releases feel-good endorphins and chemicals. It can be silly, playful, sexy, or just fun. Do it with someone else or alone. Here’s a totally goofy, entertaining one to try on your own or with friends.
Games. Whether card games, board games, something like Catchphrase, croquet, badminton, or a game in which you need nothing other than yourself like charades. Games offer us laughter, play, and a means of connecting with one another.
Dessert! Whatever your bag might be, chocolate, cake, donuts, candy, cookies, you name it. So decadent and delicious to indulge in once in a while, yes? And, if you try to air on the side of less sugar, here’s a top-notch dessert that is one of the best chocolate pies you’ll ever sample, with very little sugar, dairy-free, and zero gluten or wheat. And, a little list of not-so-terrible-for-you desserts.
Gorgeous architecture. Every city has something. Google yours or check out a guidebook. Whether you live in Portsmouth (New Hampshire), Boston, Greenville (North Carolina), Burke (Vermont), Seattle, Paris, Berlin, Lisbon, Hamburg, you name it, there are beautiful buildings to behold. Go check them out!
Love. Kissing. Sex. Intimacy. These bond us to one another. They can be erotic and sultry. Sexy and urgent. Vulnerable. Playful and imaginative. A means of apology. A way of speaking to your partner. A stress relief. A method of feeling good physically and emotionally. A flirtation. Tension. Build-up and release. Physical touch, sex, flirting, all of the above, can be so many things.
Education. And you need not be in college or school to get this. Education can be found everywhere. In books, in empirical articles, in taking classes, through interesting conversations with other people, through a particularly good television show, or via a certain life experience. A life of pursued learning is a life of growth is a life of interest and engagement.
What are the things you are thankful for right now?
What do you feel are the wonders of being alive?