THEORY: Gratitude

Last night, when Amanda and I got home from my office Halloween party, I saw an old man and a small child going through the garbage outside our house. I was carrying a huge garbage bag full of toys and treats that Amanda got from the trick-or-treat activity earlier that day that the irony was so obvious you could already tell what happened next (but I'm telling you anyway). Of course, seeing that I had a garbage bag full of treats too many that it could last us the whole year and right in front of me are people who are digging through garbage, there was no more human thing to do but share what abundance I had. 

But more than that short term help, that experience made me reflect on how I felt. Usually, the thought would be, "Poor man, how I pity you, how I wish I could help you" but last night, the first thought was, "How lucky am I to have had this man let me share what I had?"

I know being grateful is something that has been and is being talked about over and over again, and we have preachy sermons on being thankful and being aware of all the blessings we have to last us an eternity (which is as it should be). But last night, I saw an angle I haven't seen before. An angle that made me realize, to an even deeper and eye opening level, how truly lucky, no, blessed I am. 

I thought to myself, "How many people would look at others and be thankful that they weren't in their shoes?" Really, how many? I bet every time we see someone less fortunate than ourselves, we are thankful that we are at a better place. But does anyone ever think, actually realize, that they could have been that person but God made them otherwise? It is by His mercy that we are not that person we pity and think so little of. We not only owe him all that we have but the mercy He showed upon us to give us the position we currently have. 

That night I hand that paper bag of cheap candies and toys, more than being thankful I had candies to give, I was very thankful that God was merciful enough to give me the opportunity to help. 

I know the difference between what we already know about gratitude and my realization isn't very clear. Actually, as I read through the last paragraphs, the thoughts are sounding the same. But there is, I promise. I guess to put it simply, I shifted my gratitude from being "Thank you for all that I have that others don't" to "Thank you for letting others let me help them." The first kind of gratitude can be the latter at the same time, but the latter is always both. You can be thankful for what you have but not be thankful for the ability to help others. But when you are thankful that you are at a better place to help others, you are always aware of the things you are blessed with. In short, for the second kind of gratitude, the material things come as an after thought to the gratitude you feel towards the ability you enjoy from what you are given. 

I think I've been losing the ability to compose my thoughts before I type them in. I think I'm taking freestyle writing a little too literally, I really just wing it! I hope I didn't just confuse you. If I did, I hope you just take out one thing - be thankful... always.

On a side note, I started this personal project I call Thankful Today. It's my daily promise to share at least one thing I'm thankful for and I won't repeat a single entry for a whole year. I realized that though we are thankful, we are thankful for the same things and usually just the big ones. I want to make myself really stop and think about everything good that's happening to me and I'm very sure more than one would come up everyday. When I have this little list reminding me about all the good that has gone my way, there will be no reason for me to be not to be Thankful Today.

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