With 2015 rapidly winding down, it’s the perfect time to reflect on what we have been thankful for this year. Upon stumbling on an inspiring TED Talk video, it has dawned on me that happiness is not what makes us feel grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.
The thing about gratitude is that true gratitude does not arise from simply having something but having the opportunity to do something with what we have. If we change our paradigm to be grateful of the opportunities given to us, we can live gratefully, for every missed opportunities leads us to another, different opportunity.
In the wake of the attacks in Paris during the past weeks, it is, indeed, a challenge to feel grateful for the disturbingly uncomfortable predicaments that transpire in our daily lives. Be it violence, bereavement, unfaithfulness, oppression, etc. Surely, it’s not easy to find joy in all aspects of life. However, once we rise to the occasion and respond appropriately to the opportunity given to us, feeling gratitude is possible. Being given the opportunity to learn how to be patient after an argument with a friend. Being given the opportunity to reflect on humanity and figuring out ways to ameliorate social ills after an event like terrorist attack on Paris and better the status quo. Being given the opportunity to stand up for your conviction amidst a conflicting situation. In my case (for this year’s thanksgiving), being given the opportunity to reunite with my whole family on the day of my grandmother’s funeral. Certainly, when we are confronted with a difficult situation, it can tear us into pieces. But, finding the gift in such sufferings is what gives taste and color to our visceral human experiences.
Experiencing the loss of a loved one, especially during college, is tough. Don’t get me wrong, grief devours boxes of tissues spent on tears, dried eyes, and an over-actively running nose. But, one thing that I’ve come to understand is that Thanksgiving is a poignant but heartening time to mourn and honor those you have lost. Its the perfect time to be thankful for being given the opportunity to be living the life as someone’s granddaughter, daughter, sister, and friend. I’m thankful for being given the opportunity to find those I can truly rely on at the hardest of times, here, in college. I’m thankful for being given the opportunity to bond with my friends on a deeper level.I’m thankful for being given the opportunity to experience and grow from the sufferings during such a fragile time at a safe haven with my friends at Hopkins.
So, I learned to stop and look. And give thanks.