Opinion: We shouldn’t just be giving thanks on Thanksgiving


Credit: Jonathan Zhang

WSPN’s Jonathan Zhang demonstrates the importance of giving thanks year-round and just how easy it can be.

As the cherished holiday of Thanksgiving approaches, thoughts of mouth-watering feasts, visiting family and the appreciation for what we have fill the minds of many. Thanksgiving is a time when we celebrate all that we are grateful for. But once the holiday is over, we seem to forget how fortunate we are.

Our appreciation for the things that are given to us should never be neglected simply because the holiday is over. Just because we have a holiday dedicated to giving thanks, doesn’t mean that after the holiday we are somehow better people because we now understand how blessed we are because of that one day. In fact, the reason we have a holiday for giving thanks at all is because of how important it is to express our gratitude all the time.

For the better part of the year, our lives follow a somewhat monotonous schedule: wake up, go to school, do homework and sleep. But at the same time, there are those days when everything seems to fall apart. It is during those days that we often ask ourselves why things are the way they are without considering the fact that somewhere out there, someone is going through something a hundred times worse.

Over the past few years of my life, I have come to accept the saying: “there will always be someone better at something than you are.” On the other hand, the opposite is also true: “there will always be something that you are better at than someone else.” I might feel like the world is ending after getting a bad test grade, but someone else might not even be able to attend school and take tests.

We should all assume a mentality of gratitude throughout our daily lives. Instead of feeling annoyed about going to school on a rainy day, feel grateful that you get to go to school. Instead of worrying about that grueling tryout, feel grateful that you get to have a tryout. Instead of complaining about practicing hours for a music lesson, feel grateful that you get to play an instrument.

People need to stop taking things for granted. Yeah, we have been told this many times — we’re lucky that we have running water, we’re lucky that we have food on our table and we’re lucky that we have a house or some device to read this article on. Why should we care? It doesn’t matter to us. Whether we show our appreciation for what we have or not won’t change anything, right?

It is that logic that we should feel ashamed about. I recently watched a video from the YouTube channel, SO FIA. That day, I’d had a really bad piano lesson and felt wronged by my teacher’s comments. The video I watched was about how the channel creator’s battle with cancer wasn’t going well. Here was someone my age, suffering from a disease without a cure and crying because she was scared that her life was coming to an end.

As she talked, I felt sick. My mouth was dry, and I was left speechless. What was I doing? Here I was lying on my bed, annoyed about a piano lesson, while doctors had literally told this girl that she had taken one step closer to death’s door.

I was ashamed. There are different kinds of shame. There is the kind that you feel when you do something wrong and is on the surface of your mind, and then there is the kind that affects you from deep within. It is the feeling of shame that affects your sleep, affects your daily life and affects how you think. That was the shame that I felt.

But still, you don’t have to have an eye opening experience like me. It can be as simple as making a list of five things that you’re thankful for before you go to bed or after you wake up. There is an infinitesimal number of things that you should be grateful for and as that list grows, you’ll start to realize just how fortunate you really are and hopefully, you’ll start to appreciate any situation you’re in, good or bad.