Friday, November 24, 2017

Much to be thankful for

Today is Thanksgiving in my native USA, a day on which—among other things—people typically reflect on what they’re thankful for. That can include anything, often unique to an individual, but for most it’s other people who rank pretty highly on the list. As they should. But there’s so much to be thankful for.

The video above from Vox highlights nine things we should be glad about, because they’re things that are getting better. In fact, as I often point out, there’s a lot that’s getting better all the time. Yes, there absolutely are bad things and people in this world, but there are good things and good people, too. Too often we focus on the bad and ignore the good.

I admit that these days I’m far more pessimistic than I am optimistic, at least when it comes to my native land. But the things that bring me down the most reliably are also the things I can do the least about. So, instead, I focus on what I CAN do something about.

When I go to shops, or deal with anyone who has to deal with the public, including people working for government, I’m always nice. I smile. I try to be friendly so that even if every other customer they deal with that day is a prize prick, for a few minutes they have one interaction in which they’re treated like a fellow human being. I don’t think that’s all that hard to do.

I try to acknowledge the good things other people do, to cheer their successes, and to encourage their good feelings, even if only in small ways. It doesn’t matter if I share their feelings about, say, a movie, I can nevertheless cheer their enjoyment, because them being happy is a good thing, and me not liking whatever they like is irrelevent (Arthur’s Law is a good thing, I tell ya). I don’t think that’s all that hard to do.

Mostly, I just try to be human and civil to others I interact with, or I hold my tongue. Most of the time, my challenging other people isn’t necessary and won’t accomplish anything. Besides, I’ve finally learned that I don’t actually have to be “right” all the time. I don’t think that’s all that hard to do.

I fail—a lot. I’m sometimes unkind or, at least, unthinking. Sometimes I’m not as supportive as I should be. Sometimes I just don’t feel like smiling at a store clerk or being chatty. Sometimes I have a bad day, maybe even a very bad day. But I’m trying to make all that the exception, the increasingly rare deviation. Maybe I’ll eventually even get there. But the point is, I’m trying to get better, too.

So, I’m thankful for all the wonderful people in my life, whether they’re at the core of my life, like Nigel, or people further out who inspire me or teach me or light up the world around me. All of them make me want to be a better person, and it’s what I’m trying to do all the time. Sure, I don’t always succeed, but I can see where I want to be, and who I want to be, and all those people have helped me make it this far.

With the world doing better in so many demonstrable ways, and with so much to be thankful for personally, how could I be anything but grateful and thankful? Thanksgiving Day is a holiday. Being grateful and thankful ought to be a way of life, I think.

There’s much to be thankful for.

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