“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” ~ John F. Kennedy
Most of us take most things for granted most of the time. But that habitual attitude is not very conducive to either gratitude or happiness.
Happiness is important. It changes us. We become better, kinder, more thoughtful and loving people because of it. And since gratitude is an essential characteristic of happiness, the more grateful we are, the happier we’ll be. The happier we then are, the kinder we’ll be. The kinder we are, the better the world will be, one happier person at a time.
Gratitude, it turns out, is no small issue. It can be life-changing, radically altering the way we see and interpret life. Gratitude is the electricity that ignites happiness. It is the breeze that lifts it. It is the context that allows it.
This post is my attempt at enlarging the list of things we are grateful for, at reducing what we habitually take for granted and thereby providing some lift and electricity to our happiness.
So take a look below at some atypical, unconventional things on my gratitude list. Feel your heart reach out in appreciation for them. Then feel a growing sense of joy replace whatever you were feeling before.
25 Unusual Reasons to be Grateful
Reason #1: Extension cords
Cell phones liberated us from the desktop. Cars liberated us from the neighborhood. The internet liberated us from the library. And extension cords (and cordless devices, for that matter) have liberated us from the electrical outlet. I’m grateful for the liberation.
Reason #2: Pain receptors
I recently came across the story of a 9-month-old baby who was born without the ability to feel pain. She ate off her own fingertips. Pain can be a very good thing. It keeps us alive. It keeps us healthy when we learn to listen to its message. Minimally, it keeps us from nibbling off body parts, bathing in water hot enough to boil potatoes in or chewing up the insides of our own mouths. Pain, it turns out, is ultimately a good thing! I’m thankful for it, even if it takes me a while to cozy up next to the never-invited visitor once it stops by to deliver its message.
Reason #3: Sticky notes
Most of my life can be reduced to a series of sticky notes. I have reminders, phone numbers, directions and ideas sticky noted everywhere (or nearly everywhere). They also make great book marks, not only marking the page, but paragraph too. Einstein was once asked for his phone number. He opened up the phone book and read it off. He claimed he never cluttered his brain with information he could look up. Thank goodness for sticky notes that keep me from unnecessarily cluttering my brain!
Reason #4: Hot water
If you’ve ever gone camping for any extended length of time, you may already have an appreciation for hot water. Cooking gets done faster when you don’t have to heat up a pot of near-frozen water. Toothbrushes get cleaner. Clothes are kept whiter. Dishwashing machines work better. And then there’s showers, baths, Jacuzzis and hot tubs. Hot running water makes life warm. I’m thankful for warm!
Reason #5: Plastic
Just think about it! Water bottles. Fans blowing in the summer months. Computer, TV and stereo casings. Disposable cups, utensils and tablecloths for birthday parties. Tupperware. Shampoo bottles. Shower doors. Sippy cups. Lego building blocks. Shower curtains. Plastic wrap and lunch bags. Toothbrushes and toothpaste tubes. Non-stick frying pan surfaces. Refrigerator linings. Straws. Fishing line. Paper laminates. Tape. Contact lenses. I could go on. I won’t. You get the point. I’m thankful for plastic. I bet you are too.
Reason #6: Magnets
Credit cards use magnetic strips to hold pertinent information. Car doors use magnets. So do stereos, TVs, CD and DVD players. Computer and compact disks wouldn’t work without magnetism. Car motors and high speed trains in Japan. Magnetism makes electric toothbrushes work. Stud finders. Children’s art held to refrigerator doors. Speakers. Headphones. Shower curtain weights. Huge junkyard magnets move scrap cars to huge compacting machines … and make for tense scenes in gangster movies.
Reason #7: Hinges
Privacy, safety, order, cleanliness and uncluttered office and living environments all owe themselves to the invention of the hinge. Car doors. Cabinets and closets. Glass cases. Front and back doors to the house. Bedroom doors. Security gates. Bank and personal safes have doors that keep valuables out of others’ hands. Hinges make them all possible.
Reason #8: Sponges
Baths. Dishes. Walls. Arts and crafts. Cleaning tables and splotching artwork. Applying makeup and removing it. Funny cartoons who befriend starfish, wear square pants and live under the sea. Sponges are wonderful gifts to man’s convenience and I’m simply quite thankful for them!
Reason #9: Grass
Soccer. Baseball. Football. Front lawns. Lawn darts. Backyards. Parks. Playing in the sprinklers. Crochet. Bocce Ball. Golf. Easter egg hunts. Water balloon fights. Beautified neighborhoods. Cool blades of grass between toes. Lying on grass with your son watching clouds roll by. Grass is Mother Nature’s carpet. And I think she has pretty good taste in the color and texture she chose for the job!
Reason #10: Phytoplankton
For one, it’s just a great word to say. Try it, you’ll like it. But two, this single-celled ocean-dwelling plant is responsible for about half the oxygen on planet earth. Phytoplankton is also responsible for life in the ocean, providing oxygen to the gilled class under the sea. It’s therefore the reason we have sushi, sea horses and Little Nemo!
Reason #11: Pacifiers
If you’ve ever had a baby, you know what I mean. If you’ve ever been on a plane or in a car or restaurant or any enclosed place with a baby nearby, you also know what I mean. Not only do parents appreciate pacifiers, but friends and neighbors and congregants and fellow peace-loving passers-by are grateful for the rubber sanity-saving doohickey.
Reason #12: Bowls
Cereal. Soup. Ice cream. Nothing more needs be said. I bow in honor to the bowl.
Reason #13: Second Chances
Imagine if everything you ever did was the final play, no do-overs possible. No U-turns after wrong turns. No cleanups after accidents. No adjustments, fixes or improvements. Imagine if mistakes were permanent and weaknesses forever branded you intractably and irredeemably flawed beyond repair. I’m grateful for about-faces, apologies and course corrections. I’m grateful that do-overs are not only allowed, but encouraged.
Reason #14: Broccoli
This deep green Superfood is responsible for a whole host of cellular benefits, including eyes, heart, bones, digestion, skin and blood. It improves cancer immunity, repairs sun damage, maintains healthy blood sugar levels, helps prevent osteoporosis, heart attacks and strokes. Not bad for a single vegetable. Oh, and it tastes pretty darned good too!
Reason #15: Key chains
Yep, I said key chains. I’m thankful for rings that hold all my keys together. Imagine having to dig around in the bottom of your purse or backpack or drawer for all your keys, each one separately, having to remember what each key is for and whether you’ll need that particular one that day. Bet you never thought about that! How often would you get to work without the key to the office, or get to the gym without the key to the locker, or get back home without the key to the front door?
Reason #16: Liquid hand-soap
Little has made cleaning up before dinner so easy. A little squirt on a dirty hand and in moments the sink is filled with grayish water and hands are sparkling clean in all their disinfected and ready-to-be-used-to-eat-with glory!
Reason #17: Sandwiches
Sandwiches are meals in a blanket! A dinner to go. Nothing more simple and, if using the right ingredients, nothing more healthy than a well-made sandwich. You can pack it full of turkey and spinach, cucumber and tomato, avocado and sprouts of one kind or another. Stuff it all between some good hearty, grainy whole wheat bread and you’ve got a convenient little tummy-satisfying, heart-attack-preventing meal-to-go ready to please!
Reason #18: Glasses
I’ve aged. My eyes don’t focus up close like they used to. I thank Heaven for whoever looked at a piece of glass and decided it could correct for the ravages of age on eyes. Looking into the eyes of my wife. Staring at her beauty. Clearly seeing the face of my son and grandchild and daughter. Reading. Writing. All made possible by this piece of genius-ness hanging off the end of my nose. Thank you!
Reason #19: Modernity
Think about our current state of medical technology, time saving devices, the productivity revolution, internet, transportation, even fashion (imagine living in the 18th Century with big hoop dresses, men’s stockings and powdered wigs!). I love living in the 21st Century. I’m thankful for everyone who added to its convenience, health, liberty and prosperity!
Reason #20: Big cheeks on small faces
Kissable cheeks on little children’s cute cherubic faces put smiles on our faces and smiles deeply imbedded in our hearts. They incite random acts of joy and love. Here, I give you my son’s beautiful cheekiness! Enjoy, free of charge. You’re welcome.
Reason #21: Dr. Seuss
I remember sitting around the fireplace snuggled up next to my Mom as she read Green Eggs and Ham, Cat in the Hat and (my favorite) Fox in Socks. It seems like just yesterday. I remember reading the same books to my daughter some 20 years ago. I still read them from time to time with my son. I suspect they will one day be reading them to their children (or at least I will to my grandchildren).
Reason #22: Calculators
I hate math. And math hates me with something approaching the same level of disgust I hold for it. But we get along okay in our mutual disregard, largely ignoring each others’ very existence. Sometimes, however, I need the thief of self-confidence to make some needed calculations. It’s at those times that I nod in silent reverence and appreciation for that confidence-saving device!
Reason # 23: Gravity
It makes walking and jumping possible (at least the kind of jumping where you come back down between push-offs). It makes playing catch and basketball and even swimming possible as well (otherwise, you just wouldn’t be able to keep all the water in one spot to swim through). Imagine how much you would have to spend on golf balls without gravity. Imagine how messy life would be without it. Going to the restroom would be an altogether different kind of experience.
Reason #24: Dentists
I know. Dentists are not our favorite people. But think about life without them. We hate the thought of sharp instruments poking around in our mouths. But any of you who have ever known someone who doesn’t get checked up regularly knows the benefits of dentistry. A dentist-less life would be one with more rot and decay (and other associated colors and smells). Dentists make smiling more attractive and kissing possible.
You might say that dentists are to population growth what doors are to houses. They are necessary entryways or locked barriers to access.
Reason #25: Socks
They’re warm and fuzzy. They keep shoes from stinking as much as shoes without socks would. They keep feet warm in winter and on cold tiled floors in the morning. They hide ugly feet (I know because mine need hiding!). They act as a layer between foot and shoe, limiting friction (and blisters). Good ones wick moisture from skin. Others add support. Some make fashion statements. Mine don’t. But I’m still grateful for socks.
Gratitude is a wonderful trait that keeps on giving. It adds exponentially to our own happiness. It improves others’ lives in large and small ways when we take the time to sincerely thank someone for their kindnesses. It changes the way we see the world and therefore, the way we experience it.
I’m grateful you read this far. Truly I am. I hope gratitude is becoming a growing part of your life. I would love to hear how it has or what challenges lie in your way in the comments below. Also, let us know what uncommon things you would add to a gratitude list?
Photo by honor the gift