We have some gratitude practices in our home and I’m pretty good at appreciating my family, our health, the many freedoms we enjoy, and our generally charmed life of plenty. This Thanksgiving,* I’m making a point of being grateful for things that are often taken for granted. See if any of these resonate for you and perhaps come up with your own list. I’d love to read your comments.

5. Clean running water – there are at least 1 billion people who have to walk a kilometer or more to get water and even more who regularly drink contaminated water. Thousands of young children die each year because of water-born diseases. I give thanks for the clean water we enjoy from our tap.

4. Great music and how easy it is to hear whatever I want whenever I want. I love the soundtrack of my life: waking up to pristine nature sounds, getting energized with the click of a mouse, streaming any of 12 thousand songs from my computer to my stereo. I give thanks for iTunes, iPods, Bose wave systems, sound docks and head phones (including ear buds for working out) and everything that delivers the beat, the mood, or the memory in an instant.

3. Nature at the end of the block. Edmonton has done a marvellous job of keeping the green belt and easy access to nature. To go from driveway to tree-lined paths in a matter of meters is a blessing. I give thanks for the river valley and all the beauty that surrounds us.

2. “Enough” – All the things that look bad on the surface but are key to appreciating all the good. I’m grateful that there’s enough rain and snow to appreciate the sun and blue skies more; enough pain to appreciate the joy more; enough insensitivity to appreciate the kindness more; enough loss to appreciate the abundance more; enough ugliness to appreciate the beauty more. I give thanks for the shadow that helps us appreciate the light.

1. After going through a long list of things I appreciate regularly, such as the wonderful variety of foods we enjoy, the ease of access to information and communication, many material comforts and pleasures, perhaps the number one item for which I could be grateful more and take for granted less is myself. Instead of focusing on filling all the perceived gaps and constantly trying to be better, today I give thanks for all my gifts and virtues and I encourage you to appreciate yourself, too.

*For my American friends, today is Thanksgiving in Canada :-) Happy Columbus Day.

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