Of all the things 2020 threw our way, excuses might have been some of the most self-destructive.
Between the global pandemic and, here in the U.S., the political unrest of the past year, many of us have had plenty of excuses for why we don’t feel grateful, thankful, or happy for the life we have.
I know for me personally, 2020 was a year where I really struggled to appreciate the good things in my life. It was so much easier for me to think “I can’t believe this is happening,” “Why is this year so awful?” “Why can’t things go back to normal?” etc.
The truth is, though, I had many things to be thankful for, and I still do.
If you have a roof over your head, food on your table, and a job that allows you to support yourself, you have a lot to be thankful for, too.
However, 2021 promises to be another challenging year and, like it or not, we can’t allow our happiness and gratitude to be determined by external factors like the state of the world or other people’s actions.
Instead, we can take the internal step of appreciating what we have, no matter how small. Not because to not do so would somehow be wrong, but because being thankful for what we have can give us hope, appreciation, and a positive mindset, even when everything around us may seem bleak.
And so, that’s why I wanted to write this post: a short list of things to be thankful for, no matter what is going on in your life or in the world right now.
What should I be thankful for today? 9 Things to be thankful for every day
1. Access to food and water
This may seem fairly obvious but, when considering how many people around the world still do not have reliable access to food and clean water in 2021, this seems only fitting to start off this list.
Not only do many of us have access to food and water, we have choices between what kinds of food and even what brands of water we want. We can choose to go vegetarian, vegan, keto, etc. or to drink purified water, tap water, alkaline water, etc.
Yet there are still many people who experience food insecurity on a daily basis. Even as recent as 2019, there were 5.3 million households in the U.S. that had “very low” food security. And that’s just in the U.S.
Even if everything else in your life feels like it’s going wrong, one thing to be thankful for is that you have food and water. It’s something that many people still struggle with.
2. Your family
Though they can drive us crazy at times, family is one of the strongest things to be thankful for. They form a major part of our support systems, and give many of us a sense of home and belonging.
Even if you don’t get along well with all members of your family, you likely have that parent, sibling, aunt, etc. who always shows up to support you when you need it most. Imagine what your life would be like if you didn’t have that person to rely on when you’ve needed them, and be grateful for the times they’ve been there for you.
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3. Help from others
Maybe it’s the fact that the past year has sapped so much of my own energy, but I’ve found myself really contemplating how genuinely thoughtful help from another person is. Even if the helpful thing someone does for you is part of their job, help is something we should never take for granted.
When someone takes even an extra three seconds to point you in the right direction, answer a question, or show you the proper way to do something, that’s time and energy they’re expending on you. And, in a world with so much happening in it, we should never take someone else’s energy and attention to us for granted.
4. Your health
Especially with the pandemic still happening around the world, not everyone in 2021 is fortunate enough to have good health this year. If you are healthy, be thankful for that.
Sure, we all tend to have our own little health problems that we want to change — maybe you bruise easily, or you’re a little overweight, or your knees hurt when you run — but those of us who aren’t suffering from a major illness or disease should truly appreciate that. This year of all years, especially.
5. The ability to change
If you don’t like your life right now — your job, how you look, how you feel, who you surround yourself with — you have the ability to change that. This isn’t to say that change is easy, but one thing to be thankful for is the fact that we’re never locked into our current situation.
As difficult as making a change in your life can be, it is possible. You’re never trapped with what you have. You can always do something to make yourself happier, healthier, or more supported by those around you.
6. Your job
It might not always seem like something to be thankful for, but having a job that allows you to bring in money is something to be grateful for, even if you don’t like the job itself all the time.
Even if your boss is a bit of a jerk and the hours are inconvenient, having a way to make money is essential for nearly all forms of self-improvement. Money leads to opportunities, and opportunities are what allow us to improve our lives over time. Plus, having enough income to buy food and pay rent to keep a roof over your head is something.
7. The means to escape
Sometimes, all we really need is a break from the incessant negativity of the world around us. And in 2021, there has never been more ways to escape from the real world.
Not only do we have more streaming platforms than we know what to do with (Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime, etc.), but we also have things like apps, VR, and podcasts. And, all of that is in addition to classic forms of escapism like reading a book, playing a board game, writing something, drawing something, etc.
There are so many options at our fingertips to escape from the world, just for a little while, when we need to check out and reset. And, in the past year especially, that’s something to be thankful for.
8. Access to other people
If you’re reading this right now, you have internet access. And if you have internet access, you have access to essentially everyone you know, no matter where they are in the world.
Even with quarantines still in effect in many states around the U.S., it’s possible for us to see our families’ faces, communicate with them in real time, and connect with friends who might live hundreds of miles away.
If you thought the pandemic was bad, just imagine how rough it would have been to go through it in the early 1900s. The isolation, the loneliness, the lack of access to information… things would have been much worse then.
As bad as 2020 was, I’m grateful to at least have been able to access the outside world from inside my home.
9. Your spouse
One final thing to always be thankful for is your romantic partner. Especially with the pandemic and the quarantines that, as of this writing, are still in effect, dating is possibly the most challenging it’s ever been.
Finding a healthy romantic relationship can be hard to begin with. If you’re lucky enough to have someone who cares about you and makes you feel good, that’s something to be grateful for.
What are you thankful for in your life?
Of the items listed above, which are you the most thankful for in your life? Is there something you’re thankful for that I haven’t included here? Tell me what it is in the comments section below!