Gratitude for Our Lives This Thanksgiving

Reflections on giving thanks during the year of COVID.

Posted Nov 24, 2020

“Every inhalation of the breath prolongs life and every exhalation of it brings joy to the soul.”

—13th-century scholar and poet, Saadi

COVID has brought wreckage to families and loved ones across the globe. However, in the face of hardship, our gratitude for all that we have is bright. The 13th-century scholar Saadi describes the "blessings for our souls" that COVID very mercilessly targets, namely each breath. Whether we are directly or indirectly impacted by COVID, being able to appreciate the blessing of each breath is within our capacity. 

Gratitude helps us realize this capacity. It leaves us rich inside. Are you able to contemplate the blessing of each breath this Thanksgiving?

Helena Lopes/Pexels
Source: Helena Lopes/Pexels

For the person who reaches 80 years of age, they will take approximately 672,768,000 breaths in a lifetime. Multiply by two (for each inhale and exhale) and you get 1,345,536,000 total inhales and exhales altogether. Over 1 billion. Could any of us faithfully saying "thank you" for each and every one of those breaths? In the words of Saadi, “Whose hand and tongue is capable to fulfil the obligations of thanks to Him?”

Being grateful for the life circumstances that we have this Thanksgiving may be particularly challenging given the global pandemic. Still, it is possible to do. Encouraging one another to bask in just a bit of gratitude for our lives will uplift our spirits this Thanksgiving. 

What can you do this Thanksgiving to show your gratitude for being alive?

  • Share a motivational quote (if you want, linked to gratitude) with a loved one.
  • Share what you are grateful for on a social media platform.
  • Pay it forward by smiling or giving a compliment to a stranger.

By giving thanks, there are many ways an individual benefits, including spiritually, mentally, physically, and socially. Gratitude, with regular practice, has the ability to change how we feel and how we see the environment around us. Some of the neuroscientific rewards include rethinking a situation to see it in a more positive light, strengthening motivation, and even decreasing heart rate.  

Being able to reflect on the value of life can be grounding and rewarding. The opportunity to do so should not be practiced once a year, but hopefully at least once and more often. Grounding can help us accept the circumstances around us. Rewards can include the mental, emotional, social, and physical rewards of being grateful for life. Combined together, these reflections can bring purpose and a fresh outlook for the upcoming year.  

Undoubtedly, these are hard times. If seeing a silver lining means sitting with each breath long enough to contemplate even an atom of its value, then we have found the reward of gratitude. 

Happy Thanksgiving to all.