Around Christmastime, we’re particularly exhorted to feel gratitude. But if you’ve had a tough year and especially if you've had a tough life, it can be difficult to feel grateful. Perhaps you are unemployed, lonely, and/or suffer from a serious mental or physical illness.

At the risk of sounding like a mother telling her child to clean her plate because people are starving in Africa, perhaps these questions can help you find at least a bit to be grateful for. In turn, that can help you enjoy the Christmas season at least a little more.

This year:

Were you free of pain for at least part of the year? Billions of people were not.

Did you have enough to eat? Billions of people did not.

Did you have shelter for at least part of the year? Billions of people did not.

Do or did you have a good relationship with a person--adult or child? Billions of people did not.

Do or did you enjoy having a pet? Billions of people did not.

Have you done work that felt worthwhile? Billions of people did not.

Have you done work that paid you some money? Billions of people did not.

Has anyone come to you for help so that you felt needed? Billions of people did not.

Did you have transportation available: car, bus, train? Billions of people did not.

Did you live in an area that isn’t war-torn? Many millions of people did not.

Did you go through the year without having been robbed or assaulted? Millions of people did not.

Do you own an object(s) that gives you pleasure? (If so, list them.) Not everyone does.

Have you enjoyed watching TV or playing video games this year? Billions of people did not.

Have you enjoyed watching a movie? Many millions of people did not.

Have you enjoyed nature: hiking, seeing a butterfly, etc? Millions of people did not.

Have you enjoyed sports? Billions of people did not.

Have you experienced sexual pleasure? Billions of people did not.

Did you sleep well at least some nights? Many millions of people did not.

Are you free from a terminal illness? Many millions of people are not.

The upshot

Most Americans, even those we consider unfortunate, live much better than countless people worldwide. It's a cliché but true that, rather than focus on our woes, we should feel grateful for what we have. That may even give us strength to create more to be grateful for in 2015.

Marty Nemko's bio is in Wikipedia.

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