It’s Thanksgiving time, the time of year that we think about gratitude. Yes, we should always practice gratitude, but Thanksgiving is the designated official time that most people do. So, I asked myself, what is gratitude, really? Are teens grateful? What for? Of course, we are thankful for the food we eat, water we drink, our family, and our friends. But can we go beyond that? What about in difficult times? Can we practice gratitude authentically?
During this time, of Covid, it may be hard for some teens to find gratitude. I used to advocate that everyone get off of social media and “look up” to see what’s going on in the world and to connect with others. Even I was off of all socials for 8 months! But now, I have to take another look and reconsider. I am now grateful for the phone and socials because there’s a good side too, which is that we can talk to our friends even though we can’t see them in person much anymore.
Here’s another one: It’s hard to be grateful for something like Covid, so I really had to think about it. And this is what I came up with: If I was going out all the time and seeing friends, then I wouldn’t have the time to focus on school and I may not be getting straight A’s. If I had places to go and people to see, then I’d be distracted away from studying. Also, how many teens actually spend this much time with their family? And for me, that’s a good thing….much as they do annoy me sometimes, which I think is normal.
One post I saw, by Dr. Chris Willard, asked this question, that I really liked because it made me stop and think: Who is no longer in your life that you are still grateful to have known? That really made me think about my gratitude practice. I had a really good friend for 14 years, and we did everything together, grew up in each others’ houses. We are still connected on socials, but we no longer talk. I won’t go into what happened here, out of respect, besides, it would only be my perspective anyway. It’s enough to know that we now have new groups of friends. But here’s the thing, I am still grateful for that person, because it was one of my first lessons in friendship. Ps. This friend still reached out when my grandfather died, and I very much appreciate that. I would do the same thing in return if I learned of an event like that. And of course, I only wish good things for my old friend. So this question made me think about the meaning and lessons of friendship. Ask yourself, who are you grateful for that is no longer in your life?