Thankfulness, In Spite of Everything

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Photo by Snapwire.

What a year it’s been. At the outset, everyone was excited about 2020: It was supposed to be the year for me, you, them…. You name it, 2020 was going to be a year of great things.

I too was hopeful for 2020. I had some big plans and aspirations—seven goals I set for myself at the end of 2019, while vacationing with my family in Fort Davis, Texas. The big three were to write a book, start a side business, and find a role in the working world that was a good fit for me.

And then, not even three months in, the world shut down. Life as we knew it changed overnight. States and countries closed their borders, cities imposed curfews, and businesses put up their shutters.

The virus that caused all this has killed many and infected many, many more. Sadly, some of us have lost friends, family, or coworkers to the virus—myself included. Others, due to medical conditions or old age, have had to undergo strict quarantine. My grandmother lives at a memory care facility, and I haven’t been able to visit with her for eight months.

2020 has also been divisive in politics, not just in America but around the world. Governments instituted and enforced draconian lockdown and quarantine procedures in an attempt to “stop the spread”. As a result, many small businesses have died and people have lost jobs. Many folks feel helpless and have suffered depression from the psychological effects of losing their livelihoods, depleting their life savings, or not being able to leave their homes.

It doesn’t help that 2020 has also been one of the most divisive years in America’s recent history. With polarizing viewpoints from big political figures, the battle over what is news and fake news, digital censorship, and now an election in jeopardy—whichever way you look at it—it’s enough to make one’s head spin. Where do we look for truth? Whom can we trust?

In short, 2020 has been a year of chaos and confusion.

And yet, despite all the bad that has happened, there is so much we have to be thankful for.

And we must be thankful, because otherwise, we will lose hope.

Earlier this year, I started adding lists of gratitude to my journal. Every day, I’ve tried to write down just a few things I’m thankful for on that day. They could be things that happened, things that I gained a new appreciation for—really anything.

When I started this practice, I didn’t know that COVID would happen. But I am glad I did start, because it has been one way I’ve been able to stay resilient despite the world around me going crazy.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the United States, and in the hopes of inspiring someone, I felt it appropriate to share a few of the things I’ve been thankful for this year. In no particular order, here goes:

  • God, who has blessed me abundantly and allowed me to abundantly bless others.
  • My family, whom I’ve been able to take some great day trips and spend quality time with.
  • Old friends, whom I’ve been able to hang out and play poker with.
  • Making new friends and connections, which has opened my eyes to new opportunities.
  • A stable job that allows me to work from home, which has kept supporting me financially and also been a big mental health boost (I really don’t like working in an office).
  • Getting my side gig off the ground, which has been a big encouragement and allowed me to bless many people.
  • More free time from not having to commute and get ready for work, which I have spent building my business and working on self-development.
  • The Internet, which allows me to do many of the things listed above.
  • Music, from some old favorites to some new discoveries that have helped me stay positive.
  • Books, faithful companions that have kept me entertained and educated.
  • The opportunity to work on my own book—not the one I planned to write at the beginning of the year, but the one I needed to write this year.
  • My health—I have not contracted COVID (that I know of), and I have been able to stay fit by exercising at home.
  • Being alive, which is better than the alternative.
  • My country and my state; frankly, I would not want to live anywhere else.

Lastly, I am actually thankful for 2020. It has been a heck of a year, but I have been able to do so much that I could not have otherwise done. I’ve learned a lot—about myself, about life, and about the world.

Wherever you are, I encourage you to sit down and write out a list of things you are thankful for. There’s a saying that “attitude determines altitude”—I think it ought to include gratitude somewhere. Even if it’s been an awful year for you, for whatever reason, you are still alive, and that means you still have possibilities. There—you can start by being thankful for that truth.

I don’t know what 2021 is going to look like, but I figure if we can learn gratitude, flexibility, and resilience from 2020, then we can each continue to grow and blossom even while the world around us seems to be falling apart.

Let us all take a moment and give thanks for who we are, where we are, and what we have.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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