Student Opinion – Put aside our cultural instant gratification

The first American Thanksgiving took place in November 1621. The pilgrims who arrived in America on the Mayflower had a three-day feast with the Wampanoag Tribe to give thanks and celebrate the harvest of the newly discovered land. 

Many Americans today now view this holiday as a time to count their blessings instead of calories and to shout at the TV screen as their favorite football team plays. 

However, the Thanksgiving holiday was a festival that was celebrated every autumn in England as a way of giving thanks for that year’s harvest. The pilgrims brought that same mentality of thanks with them when they celebrated their first Thanksgiving in America. 

American culture today looks vastly different than it did 400 years ago. In this instant gratification culture, Americans have become wrapped up in their constant needs and materialistic wants.

It is easy to fall into the lifestyle of constantly looking toward the future and for the next best thing without taking the time to appreciate the present and everything that comes with it. 

Thanksgiving should not be a single day on which people count their blessings — it should be a mentality of gratefulness that everyone carries with them year-round. 

A thankful attitude impacts all areas of life. 

This fast-paced culture has spurred an environment in which one must always keep moving and chase after the next best thing. Gratitude creates an opportunity to be still and reflect. 

 Research from the Harvard Medical School suggests that thankfulness positively affects a person’s emotions as well as one’s mental and physical health. Additionally, cultivating an attitude of gratitude shapes how one responds to situations. 

Thankfulness brings out a spirit of giving. It shifts people’s focus from themselves to those around them. Instead of looking to see what they can get from others, contentment and gratitude foster a spirit of giving. 

This characteristic is not something one simply acquires — it is a discipline. It must be practiced daily and not merely once a year while gathered around a table full of turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce. 

How can you develop this skill of gratitude? 

Simply stop running. Take a moment to slow down and acknowledge the prayers that God has answered and the ways he has provided for you.

“Every good and perfect gift comes from above” (James 1:17), so it is important to make every moment an opportunity to spend time giving thanks to God. 

The next step is to look around you. A key characteristic of thankfulness is a giving heart. Don’t allow the daily hustle of life to distract you from recognizing the needs of those around you. Make the needs of others your needs and prioritize giving over receiving. 

This Thanksgiving, pause and take time to reflect on the blessings in your life. Consider how different your outlook on life would be if you spent time appreciating even the smallest things that have been given to you from above. 

In every season, practice true thankfulness and let that attitude carry over into every area of your life, including how you give and care for others and respond to difficult situations. 

Daniel is an opinion writer for the Liberty Champion. Follow her on Twitter

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