Happy Sunday to everyone out there.  This past week just flew by and I can hardly remember all that happened.  I hope you have had a good one.  Last week, on this very day, I spoke of taking my time and thinking of all of the things that make one happy in life.  Being grateful for things, even if not at the top of everyone’s list, everyone believed an essential component to finding happiness.  And this got me to thinking about what things I was thankful for.

On the spot, I decided to come up with a series of blogs about thankfulness.  So I started the 70 days of Thankfulness series.  What things make us grateful?  What things made me thankful?  Aside from helping myself be happy, I wanted to create a conversation about happiness for others.  I wanted to engage you, my audience, in a conversation about what things make you thankful.

So each week, leading up to Thanksgiving, I will be discussing 7 things that make me thankful.  And I hope that you will join in and add things to the list of things to be thankful for.  Maybe this will inspire you to create your own list.  Or maybe this list will jog your memory about all of the amazing things we have around us.

With the way society seems to act now, I figured we all could use a little reminder of the amazing things we have around us.  Maybe we could then be at each other’s throats a little less every now and then.  And maybe we could realize the blessings that we have in other people.  Maybe, I hope for too much.  Who knows?

Either way, I figured changing even one person, myself included, can change the world around me.  And so here I stand, ready to change a little bit of the world putting my thankfulness stories out there.  As such, welcome to week two of my seventy days of thankfulness, Guide style.

70 Days Of Thankfulness – Week Two

10)  I am thankful for amazing food.

I suppose this could be an overlap of the bare necessities from last week.  But it’s one thing to be thankful for sustenance.  I can get protein out of eating a bunch of bugs.  But we have another thing altogether when thinking about all of the amazing different foods we get to eat.  From the simplicity of an ice cream cone to the juicy mouthwatering depth of a filet mignon cooked medium rare and served with vegetables to the wonderfully complex flavors of a piece of spider roll sushi dipped in soy sauce and mixed with wasabi, we have amazing food to tempt our palate.

We no longer have to run out into the fields worrying about whether berries we pick from a bush is poisonous.  And we no longer have to worry about being great hunters in order to sustain ourselves.  Society provides us with all this wonderful food ready to eat, provided we learn some basic cooking methods and take the time to prepare it.

11)  I am thankful for life.

With so much death and destruction going on in the world, it seems natural to be thankful for the life I have.  Sure, I could argue about the quality of life that I live.  But I am not out there worrying that someone will sever my head from my shoulders if I stick my neck too far out.  And my worries compare little to most people.  But even should I be in horrific pain, or isolated from the rest of the world, I live.  The pain proves I live.  The loneliness proves I exist.  And with life comes a world of opportunity.  When life is over, or when it’s snuffed out before it really begins, there are no more chances left.  But while I exist, anything can happen.

12)  I am thankful for the ability to communicate.

What would life be like if I couldn’t talk to people, whether through direct conversation, over the phone or through my wifi hotspot at Starbucks?  Communication brings community.  And despite some exceptions to the rule, I firmly believe humans need companionship.  Whether we want to admit it or not, humans are social creatures.  Lone wolves do not survive.  In order to build a relationship, we need to ability to communicate with each other.  Whether this is through language or grunts, the ability to communicate enriches our lives in ways we do not think about.  Warnings, compliments, encouragement, support, and love we understand because of our ability to communicate with each other.

13)  I am thankful for pain.

This does not mean a masochistic invitation to beat me.  Pain hurts.  I do not go around inviting people to produce more of it in my life.  And I certainly would love to try to minimize all the pain out there in the world.  However, I believe pain exists to communicate hard truths to us.  Without it, we do not learn.  And we certainly do not grow.  Do some research on leprosy.  Someone with leprosy no longer can sense pain.  Their nerves die.  And repeated damage to extremities they cannot feel causes these extremities to rot and decay, which eventually kills a person.  Pain also moves us to action.  We avoid a tack on the ground, step carefully around glass if on the floor, or we stay away from people who would cause us harm.  We do this because we know pain and the hurt it produces.

Pain doesn’t just produce recognition.  Pain produces growth.  I have a friend who loves to watch depressing documentaries.  They are emotionally taxing.  I would say they are painful to watch.   But this pain produces in us a desire to change situations.  It moves people to action for the benefit of others in ways that we would not otherwise.  It allows us to view the humanity of other people and challenges us to help others in their plight.  Pain sucks!  But pain challenges us to grow and learn in ways we wouldn’t without it.

14)  I am thankful for creativity.

For me, creativity is the second cousin twice removed of communication.  Ultimately, anyone we recognize creativity in tries to communicate some deeper truth to us.  This could be in movies, paintings, sculpture, books, or in my case poetry.  Through poetry, I communicate pain, love, suffering, passion, confusion, gratefulness, and a whole host of other emotions that sometimes I have difficulty expressing.  Through my creative outlet, I bring unity to the human experience.  I cannot explain the pleasure I feel knowing someone connects with me for one moment when they feel what I felt through my poetry.  In that moment, I feel unity with the person and a bond with the rest of humanity that few other things make me feel.  I implore you to find your own creative outlet and let fly the winds of imagination.  Your spirit will soar.

15)  I am thankful for pleasure.

One might think to be thankful for pleasure counters being thankful for pain.  But I feel balance in the world is a good thing.  What would the world be like if we drained it of every pleasure?  First, a feeling of melancholy would permeate the world.  Who would want to live in a world full of killjoys?  I know there are faiths that try to remove desire from us.  But I think they see our one-sided pursuit of pleasure and realize that does not produce happiness. So they overreact.  And inform us that desire kills.  This shows a lack of understanding.

The key to understanding pain and pleasure comes when we learn that they act in concert with each other.  We don’t pursue pain simply because it causes growth.  Neither do we pursue pleasure because it becomes a drug which ensares us and ends in death.  But we appreciate pleasure when it comes because we know how amazing it feels after suffering pain.  And we are keenly aware of the pain in our lives because we sense pleasure’s absence.

Out of this pain/pleasure connection, we find happiness.  How, you may ask?  Because in the understanding of how they work together, when pleasure comes, you have the opportunity to be grateful for the things that produce pleasure.  Whether it’s the delicious taste of a freshly baked waffle, hot off the iron press, or the first sun rays hitting your face after a terrific storm, we have the opportunity to be grateful for those moments because those moments do not always happen.  And as you intuitively know, thankfulness produces happiness.

16)  I am thankful for pets.

I sympathize with wanting to make sure the beautiful things in nature are not destroyed.  So for those of you who advocate for not mistreating animals and allowing them the chance to roam free in the wild, I get it.  Domestication does change animals.  And I can see your argument about how that change could be hurtful.  I just see things differently.  I believe we develop bonds with all kinds of things in life. Mostly, those bonds we develop with other people.  But I believe people can bond with animals as well.  Those bonds change both creatures.

I am sure you have heard of one animal raising another animal’s young in the wild.  That changes the nature of both animals as they have to adapt to this new relationship they established.  I believe that happens animal to animal.  It happens human to human.  And ultimately, it happens animal to human as well.  Bonds change people.  If it doesn’t change both creatures, you have not really developed a bond.  This change is not inherently bad.  It means things are different.  And different does not mean bad.

I believe the bonding between human and animal can be beautiful.  Whoever has never had an amazing pet I feel like does not understand this truth.  In this new relationship, I do not advocate for abusing the pet.  Abuse in any relationship is wrong.  But a healthy relationship between pet and human produces beautiful things.  My dog Oreo, when going through my divorce, could sense my pain and anguish in ways that no human did.  And he engaged me in meaningful ways that sometimes friends could not do, or did not have the time to do.  Our bond grew during that time.  We can sense each other’s needs, and help each other meet them.  And it continues to grow to this day.  That makes me thankful.

Continue The Conversation –

What did you think of the thankfulness stories on the list this week?  What things happened to you this week that you could be thankful for?  And what kind of beautiful small moments happened to you?  How were you touched in some way that made your insides light up?  I am definitely looking forward to hearing thankfulness stories from you.

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If you liked this post, definitely check out my last thankfulness post and please like this post at the bottom of the page.  Also, do not forget to subscribe to me here via email.  Email subscribers will get access to the Dad Rules.  The Dad Rules is a small magazine that lists ten things that every father should know about and follow.  Every family would be thankful for the Dad Rules.  And I am once again thankful that you are here and I hope you have an amazing day.

Until next time, this is me signing off.

David Elliott, Single Dad’s Guide to Life