Around Thanksgiving season, it's common to hear people talk about what they're thankful for or see people post lists of their blessings on Facebook (#blessed).
It's typical to be thankful for health, possessions, family, and friends - and of course I am thankful for these things - but this year, I wanted to think bigger. So, I came up with three big things I am thankful for that I don't normally see on others' lists. These are large, overarching things for which I feel gratitude.
Of course it's important to be thankful for what you have all year long, but Thanksgiving is an excellent opportunity to reflect on these things and see your life in larger perspective. Below are three big things I appreciate about my life.
1. I'm thankful for where I live.
I feel gratitude for where I live in multiple ways. Firstly, I love my home. I'm from Arizona, and despite the bad reputation we sometimes get, I truly think it's a wonderful state.
Here in AZ, we have a variety of scenery and climates depending on where you go in the state. Where I grew up in mid-Arizona looks nothing like Northern Arizona. It's pretty cool to travel a few hours by car and see completely different plants and weather from where you live.
In my college town, Tucson, we have lots of culture and fun activities. Art galleries, concerts, hiking, shopping - we have it all! We're only missing a theme park and the beach. But the weather here is superb throughout the school year, and I can't imagine going to college anywhere else.
In a larger sense, I am also thankful for where I live and where I was born, especially in light of the conflicts we're seeing around the world right now. Although of course we have our problems here in the states, I am eternally grateful to live in a place where I feel safe most of the time. Many people aren't so lucky.
2. I'm thankful for my education.
It can be hard to believe, but in some parts of the world, women are not allowed to get an education, and if they are, they often don't receive as thorough of an education as we do here. Growing up in the U.S., we take our mandatory education standards for granted. While our school system is far from perfect, education is, at the very least, compulsory for all children. And I think that's a great thing. I'm grateful to have been given that start in life, when many young girls don't receive such privileges.
I am similarly grateful to have had the opportunity to go above minimum education standards and attend college. Many people, even here in the states, aren't lucky enough to do so. It can be easy to take college for granted or even complain about it - but truly, we are so lucky that we get to attend.
3. I'm thankful for society.
It may sound odd, but I'm extremely grateful for the era and society in which I was raised. Again, I recognize that things are far from perfect, but they're better than they used to be, and for that I'm grateful. It's easy to forget these facts, but fifty years ago, African-Americans did not have the same basic rights as white people in this county. One-hundred years ago, women did not have the same basic rights as men.
Nowadays, people of color and other minorities have more rights than they used to. Again, the battle is far from over, and we still have a lot of work to do in terms of equality for all, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation. But the social climate of today's society is more advanced and accepting than it's ever been, and that is something to appreciate. We can also use this as motivation to continue working in these areas - things have already improved, so we know further improvement is possible.
Finally, I am thankful for those before me who put their lives and reputations on the line to fight for human rights. Our world today is better - and continuing to improve - because of their brave work.
What are you thankful for this year?
It's easy to think of a quick list of what you're thankful for, but I challenge you to think outside of the box and come up with more than just family, friends, and health. I would love to hear your thoughts if you would like to share your list in the comments!