What Being Thankful Really Means

Being thankful is both an individual and collective process. Thankfulness is not a trait inherent to man, because it is not independent of a receiving object—in order to be thankful, there must be something that we are thankful for.  Thankfulness is a dependent trait, but this being said, it is something that is rooted in the individual and his own world, in the sense that being thankful is a recognition of ourselves in relation to others. Gratitude reflects the notion that who we are is dependent on much more than what we can accomplish alone. When we are thankful for something, we give something other than ourselves credit for some positive aspect of who we are. Being thankful is realizing, in a positive and selfless way, that we are not alone in the world, not alone in our lives, and especially not alone in our accomplishments, both personal and otherwise. Likewise, the act of giving thanks is an extension of this realization, and externalizing the acknowledgement that in order to be the people we are, we must rely on outside factors and other people.  In many ways, thankfulness is one of the highest yet most fundamentally human thought and feeling processes—it calls to mind how simple the idea of coexistence and peaceful interdependence really is. It reminds us that being thankful and making that recognition is something that can transcend time, distance, and hardship, and remind us of who we really are, how far we have come, and how far, with all that we are thankful for, we have to go.


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