“It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.”
I didn’t have much growing up and I still don’t but what changed about now and then is that I’m learning that less is more. I look back and now I understand why on Thanksgiving my family and I would help feed the homeless or on Christmas we would give gifts to people who weren’t our own. It wasn’t because we felt sorry for them, it was because we had all that we needed, and we didn’t need more than that to make us happy. The blessing of being grateful with what you have is that there is a surplus from it in which you can joyfully and willingly give to somebody else. I remember doing a mission trip to Clarkston, GA, it was a refugee camp, and upon arrival I was blown away with how the camp seemed. The apartments were small, and there wasn’t much around them, yet they seemed so cheerful and full of life. I didn’t get it, but now I do. These people knew how to enjoy what they had rather than mourn over what they didn’t.
I’ve been on this earth for a little over 26 years and I honestly am still finding new depths to expressing gratitude in my life. I believe that gratitude is giving thanks for everything that has affected your life to promote growth or change for the better and that includes the bad things. Yeah, crazy, right? But let’s dive into this a little deeper. I have made mistakes, people have done me wrong, and vice versa, and yes there are moments that I regret and that I wish hadn’t happened, but they did. This remembrance of my past is a blessing that I’m more than grateful for, because if I didn’t remember my actions and how they made me feel or somebody else, I would continue to lead my life with the same ignorance as before. You’re not supposed to dwell on the past, but that doesn’t mean you forget where you came from and how far you’ve come to becoming the best version of yourself. Being grateful for these experiences not only help me to accept what was but it also helps me hope for better, because if I’m joyful in the little things, I’ll be joyful at any stage of this life.
With that being said, I do find it harder to be grateful during the holidays for a myriad of reasons, but the main one is it reminds me that life changes in some way, shape, or form. Holidays in my family look a lot different than from when I was younger. I haven’t had a full family Thanksgiving in years, and this will be the first Christmas in a minute, where hopefully all our family will be together. For some people they spend the holidays alone, tragedy happens, or things just don’t go as planned, etc. Not trying to be negative, but just realistic in the fact that holiday seasons are like wild cards because we never know how they’ll turn out. Nevertheless, gratitude is where the faith story begins, because there is something out there more precious than life itself. Something that says, even if I lose everything, I will be grateful that I was grateful.
I have faith that gratitude doesn’t dismiss hardship, but it finds a reason, even if it’s just one, to keep living, enjoying each season, loving each person, and sharing your being with those around you. If your time on earth ended, could you say that you were grateful you had it or would you be bummed that it ended?
Written by, Latisha Simone Berry Washington Heights Community '21-'22