10 Things Americans Have to Be Thankful for This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving – a day when we all sit down to be with the ones we love. We’ll also sit down to eat copious amounts of food and then fall asleep in front of the TV watching football. What a holiday, right? Let’s not forget what it’s really about.

On Thanksgiving, we pause to reflect on all the things we’re thankful for, and remember not to take what we have for granted. What are some things you should be thankful for this holiday season?

1) Clean Water

As you go to wash that sinkful of Thanksgiving dishes, remember that many people – 783 million, to be specific – don’t have access to the gallons of clean water that you use to scrub plates. If we feel dehydrated, it’s easy to find a source nearby that provides fresh water.

It’s not that easy for others. Some people walk for hours a day just to find clean water.

2) Technology

You’re probably hyperaware of how much technology has impacted your life. You can find answers to questions in the blink of an eye. You can chat with a loved one who lives on another continent. You can play video games that are just a step away from real life.

Most importantly, we have the electricity and power that makes all this technology accessible. 1.3 billion people do not have access to electricity. So next time you turn on your oven, remember that many still cook meals with open fire. When you do a load of laundry, remember that many still wash clothes by hand. We use technology at a rate that other countries can only imagine.

3) Your Surroundings

Sometimes we get so caught up in our fast-paced, technology-based society that we forget what awaits us outside. You can travel the world in search of the greatest view, greatest beach or greatest food.

However, the United States has so much to offer, as well – like the majestic canyons and mountains of the West, the icy climates of the North, rich Midwestern sunsets, and the lush green of the Southern states.

Maybe this holiday, you can book a trip to one of the thousands of beautiful locations our nation has to offer.

4) Freedom

Speaking of traveling, another thing to be thankful for is your basic right to be free. That freedom was built upon the lives of those who fought for it.

We can talk about anything we want – almost – without the government interfering with our lives. We can practice any religion, or decide we don’t want to practice one at all. We can choose which political party and candidates to support. We can dress however we want and go where we want to go.

Don’t take these freedoms for granted. Enjoy them, live them, be them!

5) Safety

Current events have shown Syrian refugees fleeing their home country in search of a better life. As you watch these stories on the news, it’s important to be thankful for the roof over your head.

Your home is a safe spot. It’s the place you return to every day, whether it’s from job or school, and it’s protection from the elements. If you were a refugee, would you want to be taken in by a caring, understanding person or family? Be that person to others. Love your home and all who pass through it.

6) Owning a Car

There are currently more than 250 million cars in the United States alone. As you pass the giant McMansions that have four-car garages, keep in mind that only one out of every eight people in the world has access to a vehicle.

Many others in the world walk, ride a bicycle or animal, carpool or take public transportation. So even if you’re stuck in traffic and honking at cars that just won’t budge, you’re still in your own car.

7) Literacy

The United States has a 99 percent literacy rate. Many countries around the world fall deep in its shadow, even including some major countries, as shown in this infographic.

We read even the smallest amounts of text every day, such as the ads and road signs around us. Imagine what it would be like to walk around and not be able to understand the characters bombarding your vision. Reading is more than picking up a book. Reading helps us perceive reality in new lights, and without it, we’d be lost.

8) Health Care

While the country might be in constant debate over Obamacare, at least it’s health care in some form. In some countries, people have to wait hours upon hours, possibly even days, just to see a doctor. Then, that doctor might not even have the medicine they need, or even electricity.

In the United States, we have some diseases that are the product of over-consuming, and issues like text neck that are the product of our obsession with material items and technology, but we also have medication that can almost instantly cure a headache. Our health privilege can be both good and evil.

9) Education

Sure, school can be boring, tedious and just downright stressful. When it all comes down to it, however, school prepares you for real life. You have the resources and people available to help you progress and get your degree.

Unfortunately, schools around the world face many problems, such as a lack of materials, lack of funding and living in countries that are riddled with conflict. When you catch yourself gazing at the clock, just remember that those boring minutes may be worth it in the long run.

10) Music

The great thing about music is that anyone can make it, anyone can listen to it and anyone can watch it. Just about anyone in the world will tell you that music has had an impact on their life in some way.

Barely 100 years ago, the only way to listen to music was to see it live. Now, we can listen to anything, any time we want. The ability to hear artists speak and perform their words and feelings is an ability that not much else can replace.

As you can see, there are so many things to be thankful for in this country. Remember these when you sit down to enjoy your Thanksgiving feast this year.