We live in a time and place of outrageous abundance... Ironically, this makes it difficult to sustain a sense of gratitude.
We may see pictures of those less fortunate than ourselves, and glimpse a moment of acknowledgement that we are not in that situation, but aren't we capable of more than that?
This time of year is traditionally associated with harvest time, and celebrating the abundant results of this years planting and tending, but we have lost that anchor to the year's seasons. Rather than nest, blindly into the year-round cornucopia, how about we spend some time contemplating our ease, for the sake of our own minds...
We don't have the struggle to find shelter, and avoid war, or being eaten by wild predators.
We have endless water, clean, drinkable, and heatable. We have myriad variety of foods to enjoy, and even have the option of having them prepared by others. Added to this, we have electricity to light and heat our homes. We are clothed to the point of passing fashions. We have information - schooling, the internet - the best (and worst) of all religions, philosophies, and cultures to draw from. We have cars, buses, and planes to take us anywhere we wish to go.
We are without question the single most privileged human beings that have ever existed - throughout the whole of evolution...
And are we happy ? Are we content ? Are we even grateful ? So, let's start with that.
A gratitude practice has long been proven to calm the spirit, soften the heart, and lighten the mind.
This does not mean we have to join a declining religion or bizarre cult - though gratitude is always given as a factor in the statistical longevity of deeply religious people.
It can be as simple as stopping yourself before you eat, to consider where your foods came from. The millions of years of evolution that it took to make that meal (and you) possible. All the tiny, unsung creatures that worked the soil. All the genius of those that created processes to grow it, clean it, move it, and cook it - all those that had a hand in the chain that passed it to your plate.
But you can do the same every time you sit in your car - all the inventors and inventions that go into making that object work.
How many things do you have in your house that make life convenient, simple and comfortable.
And then there is you. Despite what you might think of your parents and grandparents, they are the latest in a long line of ancestors that lead inexorably to your life.
Every decision your ancestors made (however unconscious) have resulted in your life, your personality, and your potential.
You truly are the result of all the love-making over the billions of years...
A great friend of mine once took an age old phrase and put a swing on it...
How can earn the tremendous privilege of just being alive ? Before we even start to look at the gifts bestowed upon us by our ancestors, our families, our friends, and our planet...
Only you know the answer to that...