Because this blog is open to anyone and anywhere, I realize you might be reading this in a sunny climate, basking in the heat of a full summer sun. And while that image is one I envy right now, my own reality here in Ontario Canada is that the snowbanks are piled four feet high alongside my driveway and it’s been downright frigid of late.
So understanding that reality in which I and others nearby find ourselves, I want to share two different things that caused me to stop and think how grateful I am.
The first happened earlier at the start of this week. I arrived at work around 7:30 a.m., went up to my office on the second floor and looked through my window only to see men on the roof about 40 feet away. It’s unusual to see anyone on the rooftop, unless they are performing repairs of some kind so the movement caught my attention. There I saw five fellows, all bundled up in their hoodies, overalls, steel-toed boots etc. all busy working at removing the existing black top and shingles off the flat commercial roof, and laying down fresh tar paper, shingle, tar and stone.
It looked like a nasty job, and one they’d been at for some time by that time already. Soon the smell from the hot tar they were applying permeated the very office space I was in and filled the office. As the day went on, as soon as you entered the side of the office my desk is situated in, you could not only smell it, but almost taste it. As bad as this is, I can’t imagine these men have it any better. There they are on a rooftop with no protection from the elements, working with sticky black tar, manually removing an old roof, hauling up materials etc. And I found myself grateful for my inside job, where the elements are controlled, and I can comfortably walk around in short-sleeves if I choose.
And then yesterday another moment of gratitude happened. Getting into my car, it was only a short distance into my drive that I realized I’d need gas before I made it to work. Looking at the temperature gauge, it read -25 degrees. When I stopped for gas, I knew at some point I’d have to stand there, remove my glove, fish out the credit card, replace the glove and pump the gas. With a small car, the whole thing would be quick. And it was cold. The wind seemed to only blow around the gas station to the filling area, and I quickly felt the cold get into my coat and cool me down in seconds.
As I got back into my car and turned up the heat and on the heated seat, I knew it was only going to be about two minutes or less until I felt comfortable once more. And that’s when it struck me. How grateful I was to have a car in the first place to drive to work. I passed shivering people in the early morning light standing at bus stops, some with both hands over their ears, kicking their feet back and forth to keep the blood circulating. And I thought of the people I’d be teaching and helping later that morning who are on social assistance and having to take the bus to see me.
This thinking put both events quickly into perspective, and with my gratefulness, any thought of complaint disappeared. If you look around and appreciate what you’ve got, you’ve probably got quite a lot to be thankful for. Why even the guys on the rooftop are probably pretty grateful to have jobs in the first place and be working during the winter months when some trades are laid off and awaiting the Spring.
And those people on social assistance, what of them? What do they have to be grateful for? They I have no doubt are grateful to have someone providing them with ongoing job search support. On day 1 earlier this week, I told them to make sure they thank at least one person – at least one – each and every day for something. When you do this, you not only find gratitude, by you encourage that person receiving the thanks to do more for you. Isn’t it the case that when someone expresses their gratitude to you personally, you find yourself more receptive to extending further help? That’s been my experience.
So what are you grateful for right now? Is there something you can turn around in your mind that you may have grumbled about or complained about, that you can actually be grateful for? If you can do this, I put it to you that you have achieved great humility and are wiser for the thought. If you are employed, be thankful for that because many aren’t. If you are unemployed but in receipt of social assistance, be thankful that social assistance exists and you don’t reside in a place where you would have to fend entirely without such support. And if you are growing tired of the winter chill, be grateful that the snows replenish the earth with moisture and refill our water tables, lakes and rivers.
Expressing your gratitude shifts your attitude. Hard to be grumpy when you’re walking around being thankful – and you might find how petty the attitude of others without this enlightenment appear. Ah, but give them your best anyhow!