Thursday, December 27, 2012

Four reasons to feel grateful in 2013

Most—if not all—vegans will tell you they're grateful for the opportunity to live their life this way.

Perhaps it was a friend or loved one who first raised their consciousness by example, in conversation, or by passing along a persuasive article or book. In many cases, it was a pet or other animal who helped inspire their veganism. Whether it was one or a combination of these influences that inspired your favorite vegan to make the commitment, it's likely she or he is quite grateful for them.

For me, gratitude is the most powerful of feelings—as consciously seeking and expressing it can, by itself, lead to happiness. "You cannot be both grateful and unhappy at the same time," goes the old saying. (If you have evidence or personal experience to the contrary, please share it below as a comment.)

This new year, despite the ongoing onslaught of bad news, let's think about four very real things we have to be grateful for—and try to connect that gratitude to new challenges for 2013.

[1] Our veganism. It fortifies us, strengthens our resolve, and makes the difficulties of life easier to bear. Can we notice someone who has questions about our way of living? Can we offer to support him or her in trying it out for a day, a week, a few days a month, or for a few weeks at a time?

[2] Our past. Even though some of our past may be lost—loved ones who are now gone, favorite places we'll never again be able to visit—we can consciously reflect on our past and feel grateful for the love we've been fortunate to share in it. Can we think more often in 2013 about the hard-earned wisdom we've acquired, both in formal and informal educational settings? How might we might pass it along to others?

[3] Our present. Despite what we might have had and lost in the past, the material bounty we enjoy now makes even the poorest of us richer than most kings who ever lived: They'd consider our heat, transportation, running hot and cold water, ovens, refrigeration, medicine, and libraries nothing short of magical. And that's just the material stuff. What non-material things can we seek more of each day? Laughter? Fellowship? Love? Fresh air?

[4] Our future. No matter what happens with the economy or in our personal lives, we'll probably be able to find ways to eat, stay warm, and show love to others this year. A great way to challenge ourselves this year might be to consider who has most been an inspiration to us in our formative years. In what small ways can we endeavor to better further their legacy in 2013?

Gratitude returns us to a warm state of completion. It also reminds us how lucky we are to be in this world—no matter how bad the news gets, and no matter how much time we have left to live. Remember that! In the meantime, best wishes for a warm, safe, healthy and happy new year.