Are You Actually Thankful?

This time of year always calls for people listing the things they are thankful for in a Facebook status (I am totally guilty of this). BBQ chicken pizza, my dog, Sephora, good beer- etc. The list goes on. It's nice and cute, but it is usually fairly superficial and practically a copy and paste of the next persons. In my few years of "adulthood," I have begun to truly understand what it means to be thankful. It isn't just you listing the things you love once a year, it is so much more than that.

It is thanking God every single day for the things you are blessed with and doing your best to thank Him for them.

It is being conscious of the good things in your life and not feeling entitled to them.

It is working hard to maintain those things and understanding the true value of them.

It is understanding that there are so many others in this world that are not blessed with those things.

It is being empathetic towards those who don't and doing your part to make the world a little brighter for those people- even if that means just being genuinely nice to them when you interact. You don't need to donate money or move mountains to make a difference. Sometimes, kindness can go a long way and that just might be the thing they are thankful for today.

Two years ago, I began to work in the social work field with young children and teens who have had it rough in every aspect of life. They grew up in poverty, within the system, with almost no stability. Working with these children changed my life. When I first went there, I will admit, I was not truly thankful for my life. I was struggling personally with difficult things. At the end of every day, I was angry with life and how things had turned out for me, but that changed with this job. These kids were thankful for things that I had never even once thanked God for, things that I just expected as I had always been given them: love, affection, stability, food, shelter, school supplies, a safe, secure place to go home to, etc. I vowed to myself that every single day for the rest of my life, no matter how bad things got, no matter how difficult my demons were to face that day, I would find something to be thankful for.

This one small act of acknowledging my blessings has changed my attitude about life, my ability to handle stress and my overall happiness. I have been through difficult things as we all have, but pushing myself to fully understand what being thankful truly means has healed me the most.

I encourage you, no matter who you are or what you have been through, to try to gain a little perspective. If you are beaten down by whatever is going on in your life, try to branch out. There is always someone of greater need in your community that could need a little company, a helping hand, a smile, some change. Whatever you can give, give it and give it your all. I promise you, not only will you be making a difference in someone else's life, you will be able to look at your life more positively and become an overall happier person now that you are capable of seeing what you truly have.

So, tell me, what are you thankful for?

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