Count Your Blessings
Welcome! Even if you don’t watch television, you may have heard of the CBS reality show “Survivor.” Contestants match their wits against primitive conditions in places like the Australian outback and the Amazon. Their simultaneous need to build up allies and dispense with competitors only adds to their struggles.
Have you ever wondered why the show became instantly popular? While reasons are varied, here’s an obvious one: When you see people shivering because their fire went out overnight, or itching like crazy from non-stop bug bites, or relishing the ultimately simple meal of corn they just toasted, because it’s better than nothing, you just can’t help but appreciate all that you’ve got.
Of course, the realities of the world offer a far more stinging comparison. We don’t always want to look, but we don’t have to look far. Homelessness, poverty, and hunger beset millions of our brothers and sisters. How can gratefulness begin to heal such suffering?
We begin by waking up to the gifts around us. Although our webteam isn’t omniscient, we can pretty much say for certain that you’re in front of a computer. We also guess that you can read, which sets you apart from two billion people in the world who cannot. So already you can tally opportunities you have that not everyone can claim.
Look around at your surroundings, your own body included. What can you add to your list of blessings? You might mention such joys as comfortable clothing, good health, satisfying work, or a home to call your own. And what beyond your immediate surroundings: nourishing food, faithful friends, spiritual moorings? You may even discover less obvious blessings; for instance, a difficult relationship forces you to mature, or deep distress over violence spurs you to spread peace. On a sheet of paper or a word-processor at your fingertips, record a few of these gifts.
You might actually make this into a more leisurely project if you have time. Gather a little pile of magazines and catalogues, and make yourself comfortable. Make sure you have a pair of scissors and a glue stick at hand. Now you are ready to clip out pictures and words that remind you of your blessings. Then paste these into a gratefulness collage, and keep it in a prominent place as a reminder.
No matter how complete your list of blessings, you may have left out a few. The more aware you are, the more astonished you may grow at the extent of your good fortune. While the balance of our world is constantly changing, these figures about our Global Village remain close to current and remind us of the riches we have near at hand. (Clicking on the link will open a new page. When finished reading, close the new page, then click "OK" below to continue).
When you recognize the abundance present in your life, you may find yourself greatly cheered during a dark time. But strangely, it may make you suddenly sad to realize that you have so much when others have so little. You may feel so undeserving. And yet, don’t let guilt paralyze you. Our world’s inequalities put you in a position to practice thanksgiving for what you have got. Giving is an integral part of thanksgiving. There are ways of giving that cost little or nothing at all. Right now, at no cost, you can go to The Hunger Site and – by clicking on the yellow “Give Free Food” button -- offer to a starving or malnourished person a cup of staple food. You might bookmark that page, and click there every day. That will make you feel good every time you do it. If you’d like to offer more of your talents or money, there is a site that will help you get started by steering you to worthwhile charities, volunteer jobs, and action alerts. It’s worth at least taking a look at it: Network for Good.
You may have other ingenious ideas for “living simply so that others can simply live.” Or you may want to hear how other people turn their riches into an active outpouring of compassion. With gratitude for the gifts of writing and reading, please visit our Simple Living message board
Through these simple steps you’ve shared your fullness with someone else today. You’ve also created a collage of your gifts in words or images, and pondered how to use those gifts wisely. Encourage your friends by letting them know about this practice. And thank you for sharing your blessings by supporting this website