Cultivating a Mindset of Gratitude
When I’d get in a grumbling mood as a kid, I remember my mother advising me to “count [my] blessings.” Her parents had lived through the Great Depression, so awareness of the possibility of scarcity had filtered down to her. My generation of Americans–most of us, anyway–were so far removed from that mindset that we took material comforts for granted. I remember (like so many in my generation) hearing grandparents and other adults saying, “you kids have no idea how good you’ve got it!” We all heard the stories about how tough times were in days gone by, but it remained largely an abstraction for us.
We still tend to take a great deal for granted. A look at the Facebook page First World Problems is a humorous eye-opener. People there make ironic comments such as these:
“I had to wait a whole minute for my money to come out of the ATM today!”
“My plane seat was so uncomfortable, I got a crick in my neck!”
The implication being that we take for granted that we put a little card in a machine and it spits money out at us and that we’re flying in one hour to a city it would take us a whole day to drive to!
Accordingly, I’m compiling a list of “Things to Be Happy About.”
We’ll start with the basics and move up the hierarchy of needs.
— Food, water, shelter, and medicine.
These are things people in the developing world may or may not have on any given day. Not a guilt trip, just a fact.
— Central heating and air conditioning.
For those same individuals, heat means keeping a fire going, or if they’re fortunate, a wood-burning stove. Air conditioning is fanning yourself with a palm frond.
— Multiple forms of powered transportation. Most families in the developed world own more than one car.
— Multiple forms of home entertainment: cable or satellite television (often, units on each floor of the home), multiple stereo systems, desktop computers, laptops, cell phones, tablets, and so on.
You get the idea: Mom was right; there are just too many “blessings” to count! Let’s not let this induce feelings of guilt, but rather a sense of gratitude and a desire to share with those less fortunate than we are.