June and July can be pretty chilly in Canberra. There’s plenty of mornings this time of year when I just want to throw my alarm in the bin and just curl up under the covers. I know I’m lucky to have a split-system heater, a warm blanket and a roof over my head, especially in a city with the second-highest rate of homelessness in Australia, with housing affordability just getting harder. But often my first instinct is to complain about that darn cold.
Counting your blessings is one of those things which is much easier said than done though. Instead of being thankful for the warmth of my bed and home, instead I grumble about the fact that I have to get up and go to work. Instead of enjoying my hot, home-cooked soup when I get home in the evening, more often than not I’ll get annoyed about how it’s not ready quickly enough. And there’s never anything good on the TV.
Thankfulness doesn’t seem to be one of those things that comes naturally to us.
In fact, it seems to be the opposite. I know for me, my first inclination is to be selfish – to think about what I want and don’t yet have, to be focussed on my goals, and how I can get the most out of my day. ‘Personal development’ is one of the buzzwords of modern society – we need to be evaluating how what we’re doing is growing us as a person, and what our next steps and goals are.
I don’t want to suggest that none of this is important. If we didn’t grow as people we wouldn’t make that much of a contribution to society. And if nobody thought about next steps and goals, we wouldn’t have sent men to the moon or invented the iPhone.
But too often it seems that we sacrifice thankfulness for ambition, and we become selfish about our goals.
Would your day be any different if you woke up thankful for warmth in the middle of winter? Or grateful that you have a car to drive to work? Would this change the way you look at other things in your day?
Do your goals have to be just about you, or can growing as an individual and learning new skills help you contribute to the growth of your community?
Perhaps most importantly, what are the things which you’re doing that other people are thankful for? Hold these close – you never know what little thing you do could change someone else’s day.