The purpose of writing this article is to encourage us all to be thankful about who we are and about the people that enrich our lives. Whatever is going on in your life at the moment, whether you are facing challenges or doing just fine, lets all just take a moment to be thankful for our lives, the people in it and those coming into our future.
Thankfulness about who we are
Identity: We often identify ourselves by place, where we live, place of birth, country and by the language we speak , ethnicity, parents, or families we are born into. Who we are, our families and connections is not a mistake.
We are not mistakes. It is not a mistake that we were born in the families we were born in, heritage, tribe, colour, continent, class and so on. According to Hendry, J and Underwood, S (2012, p. 126) ‘why people want to hide their identity is because of the fear of discrimination by others in the wider society to which they belong‘.
Let us celebrate our existence by appreciating our friends and families and those who really matter to us. You are you and I am me and non of us are imitations of each other. You are an original you, so why change it.
Some are taller, shorter, thinner, pear shape, apple shape, thin legs, big nose, big head, square face and all carry different features. Other markers that identify who we are clothing; the way we dress some of it religious based like Muslim women wearing a burqa and Jewish man a kippot for head coverings.
Clothing also shows traditional beliefs. Languages, the way we speak different languages and also strong foreign accents for instance when speaking a different language to ours helps to identify who we are and differences. Perceptions: The way we are perceived, being viewed or viewing others in different ways through cemented mindsets makes us identify people differently.
There are very intelligent people with sharp and quick minds and on the other hand some are good with their hands. We all have different attributes and that’s okay too. No one is useless, our strengths and weaknesses may vary but we are there to compliment each other. We are all unique in our own ways.
We are fruitful when we concentrate on our strengths and acknowledge our differences. That way we are able to produce good results. There is pressure in the media, society and community to be a certain way or fit a certain group.
If one’s finger prints are different from the next person then we should not be under any pressure to be or look like somebody else. If one choses to lose some weight for health benefits or to look good; that choice should be theirs to make. A person is not just a body but there is more to humanity.
Appreciating people in our lives
We are a busy generation: rushing through life and failing to meditate; getting a moment ‘with our own good thoughts’ or being with friends and family. We fail to have a moment to appreciate and reflect abut our families.
For instance in that space in your mind be thankful for those dear and nearest to you. Be thankful about you mom, dad, brother/s or sister/s, grandparents, cousins, nephews, nieces, friends, classmates, neighbours, colleagues, the little old lady that smiles at you each time you meet her , your community, leaders, nation, country, church, club and so on. The list is endless.
There are lonely people in our communities. People are lonely because they are elderly and their spouses or partners have died and children moved away, there are those who never married or had children, those who just find it difficult to make friends or start conversation; let us be mindful of such people in our societies and communities. Respecting others is a good thing but it doesn’t mean they want to be left alone or isolated at all times. Gratitude helps to uplift one’s spirits and mood. Remember:
- You and I woke up today and we are enjoying good health.
- food, going to bed on a full stomach
- You may want expensive clothes, labels but you have decent clothes, warm clothes,
- Our nearest and dearest are well, even though there may be illness in the family but they are getting the reasonable help to assist in their health care.
- safe neighbourhoods for you, me and loved ones, on the other hand some are living in war zones, no school, hospitals or social life.
- Our children are happy and healthy, they play blissfully unlike those in war zones dodging bombs and bullets. You are not contemplating fleeing to safety with your family, you are safe.
- You have a job or means of earning a living, In some instances a bit of monetary subsistence from the government.
- we complain about our house, accommodation, remember there is someone out there sleeping rough in the cold or doorway
Let us take and make some time to be thankful and grateful about people. We appreciate people who are closer to us like family by telling them that we love them. We appreciate them by making time for them, for instance visiting them. It is amazing that relatives or family may live in the same town, country or neighbourhood and yet may not see each other for over a year or years.
If making appointments and visiting someone is complicated how about calling them? In this era of the internet we can skype, WhatsApp, phone, text, or snail mail, the traditional way of writing and posting letters. We often hear from the media how lonely some of us are. When something happens we feel bad and question why we didn’t know what was going on with our loved ones.
How someone we care and love had to endure pain and despair on their own without our support. Statements like ‘I wish I had known’, ‘why she / he did not mention it to me’, are made when we realise what someone close to us was going through. Or ‘how come, why didn’t I know about this? Such questions often come too late and are often left unanswered. How many of us have often said ‘why did she not tell me’? I could have done something.
I had a brother whom I loved dearly but has since passed away. He faced mental challenges throughout his teens and early adult life and often got hospitalised for this. Later on in his life he got settled and managed his medication by having an injection once a month. He lived a happy life and we spoke a lot.
Family supported him financially and materially as it was difficult for him to get a decent job because of disruption in his education. The thing that I regret since my brother passed away is failing to really sit down with him and really asking him how he was, asking him if he had any pain anywhere in his body or if he was worried about anything. I could see that just before his passing he had lost a lot of weight.
This used to happen a lot before he had a massive mental attack. I therefore deliberated in my mind if he was going to have another attack, I would ask in passing why he was losing so much weight whether he wasn’t getting enough to eat. At times I would just tell him that perhaphs he was drinking too much or smoking too much and this is why he was losing so much weight. I had made up my mind that he needed a full health check, perharphs soon .
Unfortunately it wasn’t to be as he had a 24 hour illness and died soon afterwards. When I play the events in my mind I always come to the same thing that I never really talked , deeply talked to my brother to ask him how he was, if he was happy , in pain, sleeping well, and so on. We just assumed he had been to the doctors before because that is what he told us, but he probably had not. He needed help , a little push. What killed him is something that could have been dealt with long before it got to the advanced stage, something curable.
Let us talk and sit down with people we love and ask how they are. Therefore it is important that we dont take things for granted, especially life or assume that others know how we feel or how we may react to their situation.
By talking, and repeatedly mentioning and letting the other party know that we are around and approachable whenever /whatever the case may be its a start. Let them know, dont assume. There have been lots of incidents about abuse in the modern world occurring within our reach but without us knowing.
Most often victims have found it difficult to confide or tell anyone, even those closest to them about the abuse, molestations, mistreatments, bullying and so on. Therefore repeating ourselves, being approachable, knowing that someone doesn’t always need an appointment to see us is a start.
In serious cases of abuse or misconduct, the person who knows and has been informed about the abuse has the greatest responsibility to act on that information and get help and solutions for the victim. When someone knows about something bad happening to someone and possibly continuing and does nothing about it; that is the greatest crime.
It is normal to feel negative about where we are in our lives, about the way things are. Life, stuff, things happen but we must not let negative experiences or outcomes consume us. we may feel discouraged, anxious, peer pressure, bullying, wanting to quit, failure, hopelessness, mistakes we have made in our lives, past and present mistakes; lets us acknowledge these things and move on.
If we can deal with them let us do so if not let us get the help we need from relevant sources and then move on .We deal with bad stuff by talking and exposing them as such; out in the open. Find a trusted friend, family or organisation that can help. A friend of mine once told me that most people are willing to help, that they like being asked for help. They may either help you directly or point you into the right direction, to the right resources.
Keep a positive diary
Remind yourself about the good things in your life by writing them down. Stick the paper somewhere you can always see, by your bedside so you read it when going to bed or getting up. You can stick it inside your bedroom door, fridge door, desk, wall; anywhere visible. This will help to lift up our spirits when we’re feeling low or sorry for ourselves.
We all have a part to play: to make a positive impact in this life, each one of us in our small ways. We all have some goodness in us, but if we don’t share it then it wont benefit us or those needing it. Let us be thankful for the people in our lives so that we don’t lose what we have and they don’t leave us.
Hendry, J and Underdown, S (2012) ‘Ways f Belonging’ in Hendry, J and Underdown, S (eds) Anthropology: Beginners Guide, Oxford, England, Oneworld Publications.
Hendry, J and Underdown, S (2012) ‘Personhood’ in Hendry, and Underdown, S (eds) Anthropology: A Beginners Guide, Oxford, England, Oneworld Publications.