30 Reasons to Be Grateful for Living

This weekend the unthinkable happened.

On a typical summer weekend night, friends, couples, families, and teenagers went to see a movie. They bought their tickets, got some popcorn and a drink, and settled in their seats to wait for the movie to begin.

While waiting, they were chatting with their friends, sending last minute texts, or just anticipating the premier showing that was about to begin.  None of them considered the possibility of danger in a suburban movie theater. None of them were thinking about their last moments on Earth.

Within minutes of the movie beginning, unexpected horror was unleashed on them. Twelve of the moviegoers spent their last moments in sheer terror before their lives were taken so abruptly, so unnecessarily.

One of the victims, a U.S. Navy sailor,  was out with a friend to take in the midnight showing of the long-awaited film. “You expect to be in harm’s way in a combat zone, not in a theater in Denver,” his father was quoted as saying after learning of his son’s death. Another victim was a young woman who had recently escaped a random shooting incident in a Canadian shopping mall.  Most of the victims were young adults, just on the cusp of their lives. One girl was only six-years-old, her life barely started.

Seventy other people were injured  in the shooting rampage. And there are hundreds, maybe thousands of others who are profoundly impacted by this event though they didn’t have physical injuries — those who lost a loved one, knew a victim, watched the horror unfold, were first responders.

People are suffering, grieving, barely coping with the aftermath of something so inexplicable.

Like most of America, I was glued to the television as the events unfolded. But after a while, I had to turn it off. The random senselessness of it all was overwhelming me. I have three young adult children who will likely see that movie. Until now, I wouldn’t have thought twice about it. I am so grateful they weren’t there in Denver. I am so desperately sorry for the parents of those who were.

Yesterday I was riding my bike along the river near my house. It’s a beautiful ride, and it was a beautiful day. But my mind was wandering, and soon enough it wandered to the tragedy in Denver. There are 12 people who will never ride a bike again, see the trees, feel the breeze on their skin, listen to birds sing. They will never again enjoy the most basic parts of being alive on this Earth.

When these awful events happen, we are forcefully reminded of the randomness and fragility of life. And at that moment biking, I was reminded that the only certain thing is the present moment.

I brought my mind back to the moment and really saw the trees, felt the breeze, and heard the birds sing — and I was grateful. I was living.

This is what I’ve been able to take away from this horrible event. And it is my wish for you. Be in this moment, right now, and look around you.Gratefulness for exactly what you have, what you are experiencing.

Gratitude Lists.

Here are some of the reasons I am grateful for living:

1. My family and friends. I am grateful that I can talk and laugh with them, hug them, support and love them, share my life with them.

2. My online community. I am grateful for my readers and online friends around the world who have given me a purpose and passion in my work and life.

3. My health. I am profoundly grateful that I am physically healthy, that I have energy, that I can walk, run, hike, ride a bicycle, and function at a high level.

4. My work. I am so grateful that I can do work I love from my home, making money to help support myself and my family.

5. My home. I am so fortunate to have a comfortable, safe home with great neighbors, in a town that I enjoy.

6. My bed. Every night I climb into a comfortable, clean bed.

7. Running water. Whenever I turn on the tap, hot and cold water is immediately available to me for drinking, cleaning, and bathing.

8. Modern conveniences. I am grateful for the conveniences that make my life easier — electricity, appliances, my car.

9. Service people. I am grateful for the people who serve me in various ways — the grocery store clerk, the postman, my hair stylist, a waiter or waitress, my doctor and nurses, the customer service people on the phone.

10. Nature. I am deeply grateful for the beauty of Earth, for the trees, animals, plants, lakes and oceans. I am grateful that I can spend time enjoying nature.

11. The Sun. I am grateful for the feeling of sun when I walk outside, for the light and warmth it provides, and the nourishment it offers living things.

12. The Universe. I am awed and grateful for the wonders of the Universe beyond our Earth, for the continued discoveries by scientists, and the beautiful images of galaxies, planets, and stars.

13. Technology. My computer, iPhone, and Kindle have provided endless sources of learning, enjoyment, and opportunity for me.

14. Plentiful food. I am grateful access to healthy, fresh, delicious foods and for my enjoyment of the tastes, aromas, and experience of eating.

15. My cat and other animals. My cat provides an endless source of love, pleasure, and entertainment. I am grateful for all animals and the unconditional love they offer us.

16. Beauty. I am profoundly grateful for beauty in all of its forms — nature, visual art, music, dance, prose and poetry, theater, interior design, fashion, physical beauty.

17. Medicine. I am so grateful that medicine is available to treat me and my loved ones when we are sick or hurt.

18. Protectors. I am amazed and humbled by those who put their own lives at risk in order to protect us — police, firefighters, military personnel. I am grateful for their service to us.

19. Books. I am so grateful for having access to books and reading and for the years of pleasure and learning they have provided me.

20. Teachers and mentors. There have been and continue to be many people through the course of my life and my children’s lives who have lovingly taught, coached, instructed, and supported us as we learned and accomplished new skills. I am grateful for them.

21. Peace and quiet. I am so grateful for moments when it is quiet and peaceful and I am truly sitting in the present moment.

22. Humor and laughter. I am grateful for the purging feeling of a great laugh, of sharing humor with friends, and the connection laughter offers to everyone.

23. My brain. My brain has an endless capacity for learning, creativity, and change, and I am grateful for all I am able to experience and accomplish because of my healthy brain.

24. Travel. I am so grateful to be able to travel, to experience other people, landscapes, food, and perspectives, and for the learning and personal growth travel provides.

25. Emotions. I am grateful for the intense experiences of love, joy, pleasure, gratitude, fulfillment, peace, and pride. I am also grateful for the contrasting emotions of sadness, loneliness, and fear that also reveal the intensity and profoundness of life.

26. Change. Life is constantly changing, and we are continually growing and evolving as individuals. I am grateful for change and for the many new blessings that every life change affords.

27. Compassion, Empathy, and Forgiveness. When I screw up, fall short, or have difficulties in life, I am so grateful there are those people in my life who are able to forgive me, have compassion for me, and who can relate to my situation.

28. Sleep. I am so grateful that I sleep well and for the restorative power of sleep.

29. My country. I am profoundly grateful to have been born in the United States, to enjoy the freedoms, opportunities, and blessings this country offers, in spite of its problems and tragedies.

30. Life. I am deeply grateful to be alive at this moment, to be typing these words, looking out the window at the trees, the pond, the sunlight and shadows. I am grateful that we can connect to each other through my words and offer hope to one another for peace and kindness in the future.

Please share in the comments how the weekend tragedy has impacted you and why you are grateful for life.

Comments

  1. William Veasley says:

    Barrie: I did my research on that event lastnight because lastnight I also went to see the movie (Which was really good because it had a lot of great morals). I do not watch the news and for the most part I live in my own world (My mind). When I heard of the incident I had to do my reasearch and here is what I found out . . .

    James Holmes (Shooter) set explosives and booby traps all throughout his apartment. It was said that he had enough to blow up the buildings that were beside his as well. He set his stereo system to play loud music that night hoping to draw in police officers so that they would fall right into his trap. I am guessing that he did not time it right or his neighbors did not call the police as soon as he thought they would. But anyways . . .

    Holmes went to the movie theater five miles away, bought a ticket and watched the movie for about half an hour. He then exited the emergency door, but propped it open so he could return and enter directly into the cinema room. He had four guns, two of which were automatics, tear gas and smoke granades. Holmes came well prepared because he had full tactical gear (SWAT team gear), a bulletproof vest and a gas mask! That is crazy!

    His automatic gun could fire 100 rounds per minute!
    I wonder if the movie was in a 3-D because the people told reporters that at first they thought it was all part of the movie experience, at least until he started shooting up everyone and everything, even people in the surrounding cinema rooms.

    As the police officers arrested holmes, he told them that he was the joker from the second Batman! There are two valuable lessons I learned and here they are:

    1. No one can protect you except for yourself. No police. No SWAT team. Nobody, but yourself. If it were legal for everyone to carry firearms then situations like that would not have happened. Holmes would not have attempted that because he would have been kill within seconds (One hundred people vs. one). Granted, in situations like those it would have been nice if even one or two good citizens carried their concealed firearms with them that night.

    2. We sit, watch and promote these movies with killing, but when it happens in real life everyone’s like, “Where did this come from”? James Holmans did the exact same thing that everyone thought was humorous when they were watching it on the big screen and I think maybe that was his point.

    I do not know, but it is going to be interesting to hear his story and why he did what he did.

    Just my two cents!

    • William, I agree with you-I think if the average (trained) citizen had been armed, the outcome could have been greatly different. My son and family live just north of Denver, it could have easily been them impacted by this crazy! I have a gun, I will be getting my carry/conceal permit. It might make a difference.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi William and Janie,
      I honestly don’t know the answer to the gun violence problem — or the problem with some individuals who are mentally unstable or angry enough that they would commit these acts of violence. I often feel helpless about these situations. If there were no guns available to anyone except peace protectors, then it might make it more difficult for crazy people to carry out these acts. But if someone legitimate was carrying a permitted weapon in the theater, then maybe there wouldn’t have been so many deaths and injuries. Violence is abhorrent regardless, but I fear it will be around always, if the past is any indication. I do know that I can control some aspects of my safety and security, and I choose to do those things. And I know I can choose how to live my life, how to appreciate what I have, and how to sow the seeds of peace. For the moment, that is all that seems possible for me to do. So I’m trying to do it. And of course have compassion and love for those affected.

    • I am pro-gun, but the idea of 100 frightened citizens shooting at one man in a large dark room is terrifying. And besides, Timothy McVeigh used fertilizer, Dr Ted Kaczynski used home-made bombs.
      All of this violence cannot be blamed on the easy access of guns. We are a violent society and I can never understand why we are so shocked and surprized at violence by others. Clockwork Orange, IMHO, is a grieviously horrible movie and is lauded as a cult classic. And the list of these horrible, dearly beloved movies and video games is almost endless. To stop these would be stopping free speech.
      “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Walt Kelly

  2. i wonder what happened that someone fell through the cracks of society like this; how could no one notice the changes that must have occurred in mr. holmes’ life to drive him to insanity? i am not an advocate of guns and i am not an advocate of the kind of senseless violence that permeates our “entertainment” industry; every parent and grandparent, for that matter, every family member, should hug their child and help them to understand how fragile life is and tell them how much they are loved; advocate for the rights of every person on the planet; make use of your time on this planet to make it better every single day for every single person; be grateful for your life and what you have and realize how lucky you are to be alive

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      That is a very good question Chris. I’m sure those close to him did know something was wrong. But what could they do if he hadn’t previously committed a crime? It sure seemed easy for him to get hold of a lot of weapons and gear through the Internet. That is scary to me. There will be so much anger and frustration around this event. I hope we can channel it, as you say, into doing good for the world and living our own lives to the fullest. Just as there are going to be natural disasters, I think there are people in the world who are natural disasters, who will never see peace as a viable solution to whatever problem they may have. So we protect ourselves as best we can, and hope we aren’t at the wrong place at the wrong time.

  3. Jon Sollie says:

    How easy it is for the majority of us to become complacent and take for granted the quality of life we have come to enjoy in this great country of ours. Here on the shores of Lake Superior, violence is rare, and when it does occur, gets lots of attention. The sheer magnitude of the tragedy in CO is incomprehensible.

    Thanks Barrie for the reminders of all blessings that most of us have!

    All the best…

    Jon

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Jon,
      Yes, we do become complacent, complaining, bored, ungrateful, etc. But when our lives are threatened or we see how fragile life really is, the beauty and wonder of this world we live in comes clearly into focus. We don’t want to leave it, especially in a violent, senseless way. So soak it in, savor it, shift your mind from lack to abundances. We have so much available to us right now. And it would become far more valuable to us if we knew our lives were going to end shortly.

  4. Ian Hunt says:

    Some interesting comments. Why does an individual need to have guns? Why does an individual need one gun?

    We have had similar horrific gun massacres in Scotland (the Dunblane School Shootngs) and the British Government tightened up the gun licensing laws as a result of it. I suggest the US Authorities do the same.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Ian,
      How did they tighten up? Has it had a positive impact? I agree that if it had been more difficult for this guy to have access to weapons and bomb-making chemicals, he might not have done this — at least not to this extent. There will always be crazy people, but if we can keep them away from guns, perhaps these events won’t happen as often. I wish I knew the solution.

  5. CJ McKinney says:

    It’s surprising (although maybe it shouldn’t be) that on a blog like Barrie’s the comments would raise the old saws about how massacres like this would be averted if only other people had been armed too. But Holmes was in full riot gear with enough firepower to conduct his own war! And all bought legally. That has nothing to do with defense and everything to do with offense. In the US it is far too easy to create conditions for this kind of situation. It’s both amusing and terribly sad to hear from the armchair vigilantes who think everything would’ve been solved if only EVERYBODY was armed to the teeth.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi CJ,
      I know there are differing opinions on this topic (of gun control), and frankly I’m not educated about the topic enough to know what the solution is. Yes, I would prefer that guns were much harder to get. It certainly might have made a difference in this particular case. The point of my post was to move us away from the frustration and horror of the tragedy and focus instead on the abundance we have around us and sow the seeds of peace in our own lives. That is what we have the power to do, right now.

  6. I am grateful that there is a God who grieves with us, also saddened by the sin in this world that makes one individual – and all of us – think about ourselves instead of our neighbor.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Lynda,
      It is such a sad, awful event — and it makes me wonder why no one was close enough to this sick guy to notice what he was up to. Perhaps that is a take-away too. We all may know someone who is troubled or sick. When our antennae go up, we need to pay attention.

  7. I respect everyone’s opinion on here, and just have to add my own thoughts, since I feel pretty strongly about them. First of all, my heart truly goes out to all those affected and their families, they are all in my prayers. The following paragraph is not referring to anyone directly involved, but for all of the other people in the world.

    I fully believe incidents like this should not be reported in the news or newspapers, or media of any kind. Before you gasp, hear me out. First of all, for someone to be able to do something like this, they obviously have many issues in them and turmoil that have caused them to fall far from their true selves. For similar people out there, this news that has spread throughout the country and world has now given them similar ideas to bring them further from their own true selves. Next, for everyone in the world, I submit to you that bringing this news to them brings nothing positive with it that could not otherwise have been given in another way. What I mean is this: Yes, we can look at this and see it as a chance to be thankful for our lives, health, families, etc. But we can easily be thankful for those things all the time, and shouldn’t need a horrific event to stir those things in us. What this event being broadcast does bring to the world is fear, anger, hatred, and extreme sadness to many many people who otherwise would have not felt those specific feelings. The shooter was in such a dark place that he wanted to make other people feel pain as well, which is bad enough by itself. By broadcasting this to the world, the news and media has taken this pain and given it to all of them too.

    It makes me sad when such a huge deal is made of horrific events, and so many people are glued to their tvs to watch every detail of them, but why don’t we make as big of a deal out of the good that people do every day? I wish we could be glued to the TV when a new school is built for poor children that will now be able to learn and get educated, when people who are starving are taught how to grow their own food, or when a family that hasn’t ever had a trajedy happen is just happy and loving and takes care of each other. All of those things should be celebrated, as well as any other great thing that happens. If the news brought an enormous amount of attention to the great things people are doing, and gave no attention to the bad, I believe it would make a huge difference in people’s moods and feelings.

    Many people say they need to be informed, but all I’m doing is submitting to everyone that if you really stop and think about it, why do we need to be informed of these kinds of things? We can be careful in our lives regardless of hearing about these types of things. We can look after our children and be thankful for our lives and all we have in our lives regardless of seeing these types of things. We can do all things that are good without needing to ever hear about these things.

    Thanks for listenting.
    Paul

    • I agree with you completely, though for different reasons.

      Whenever these events are broadcast all over the news, we become nothing more than a bunch of rubberneckers at what should be private tragedies. Don’t the victims, and doesn’t the family of the individual with the problems deserve some quiet dignity without the press shoving themselves into every nook and cranny of their private lives? And we, as the onlookers, are pressed into those lives as well. We’re diminished ethically and morally in the process. We belittle private pain when we start diminishing what happened in others’ lives to policy failures, or talk about increasing violence as a “preventative measure.” This isn’t a political issue– it’s a tragedy on all sides.

      I wish we could be just as mesmerized by school construction or the successes brought by Kiva, etc. Maybe humanity will progress one of these days, and we won’t be so hypnotized by cruelty. Not broadcasting and hammering home these tragedies would be a good first step to our eventual social evolution.

      • Barrie Davenport says:

        Paul and Lizzy,
        You both make great points. The media does sensationalize and over-promote these events because of ratings. Yes, it is news, but it doesn’t need to be the headline news for weeks on end. I think people will always be intrigued by these events because, aside from morbid curiosity, it binds us through empathy and compassion and helps us feel some level of control when we can compare our situation to what we are seeing on TV. When the world is grieving with these families, they are lifted up in a small but real way. So there are some positive aspects to the news coverage of tragedies. But I agree that spotlighting the killer or featuring sensational, titillating headlines is unnecessary and sometimes harmful. Yes, it would be nice if we focused on the good things that happen in the world. But sadly it seems they don’t sell as well as the bad.

  8. Great job. I mean you have many things specific.
    I also grateful for my house, my wife, my family that give me lovely.
    And grateful my age and my health too, I’m young to do things that I want such as growth myself.
    I know this life so beautiful and amazing with me.
    Thank you remind me.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      You do have many things to be grateful for Chu Nam. Life is really beautiful, and I hope you continue to appreciate all of your many blessings. 🙂

  9. I was born and raised in the metro Denver area. I am so saddened that another tragedy has ripped through the heart of my hometown. My thoughts are with all people who have been impacted- in whatever way they experience it. I realize this reopens the old wounds carried on from other acts of violence in every part of our world. It reminds us of all other wounds in our lives.
    In response, I am so aware and applalled by the incredible amounts of money people in my country choose to put toward pro-gun legislation. I ask what use is there for an automatic weapon if not to kill another human? This question and these thoughts lead me to my next wonderment which is- why are human service areas such as mental health and medical/educational budgets cut when so many people are in need? I would prefer that my country provide for care, education and prevention instead of weapons. As far as “if someone else had a gun in the theatre?” Really, this response frightens me and my hopes for change. History has shown that another person with another gun has not seemed to heal our world.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Becky,
      I am so sorry for the tragedies you have suffered there in Denver. It is surreal that these two awful events happened so close to one another. I too wish that people didn’t need guns for self-defense — and especially that people didn’t use guns only for the purpose of harming someone without provocation. There have been some pretty solid studies about gun use showing that guns are used far more often by average citizens to prevent against violent crime than they are used by criminals to commit crimes. But again, I didn’t mean this post to be about gun laws — there are valid arguments on both sides of the issue. And random acts of violence will always be part of our lives — because there will always be people with violent tendencies. The purpose here is to find what binds us together — what we are all grateful for about our time here on Earth. We can’t solve the gun law problem today, but we can appreciate what is right in front of us. 🙂

  10. I have not seen the movie nor the news as I am one of those who do not have a tv 🙂 my question is, how are they going to heal from this tragedy? Is this going to be just another incident?

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      I hope it doesn’t just become another incident Becky. It sure won’t to the victims and their families. Healing from something so traumatic likely takes many, many years.

  11. hi barrie
    I totally agree with you that there are plenty of things that we should be so grateful to god because of their presence, things that we are used to see them to the extent of not thinking that they are so important in our lives !!!!

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      You are right Lilia — sometimes we get so accustomed to the blessings all around us that we forget to feel grateful for them. Now is a great time to acknowledge them.

  12. Hi Barrie and all….

    Permit me to quote myself please. This is from “The Hidden Beauty Of Black Friday,” an article about the shopping debacle that happens after Thanksgiving. I wrote it the year of the Walmart riot in California…

    “For every act of chaos, greed and desperation that occurred on Black Friday, there were hundreds, even thousands of acts of civility, kindness and generosity. These weren’t reported in the media.

    Doors were held open for senior citizens and children.

    Children’s eyes lit up when parents bought special presents for them, and parents hearts melted with the reactions of their kids.

    Strangers bonded in a shared sense of humor of the absurdity of the circumstances they were in.

    Spouses had hot breakfasts waiting for their partners when they returned home.

    Some minimum wage retail workers found a sense of dignity and personal empowerment in being assertive towards large groups of people. Some of these same workers received more money than usual based on the volume of sales they processed.

    And some of these workers experienced something unpleasant enough, it inspired them to ask for more out of their lives. Somewhere on Friday a decision was made by a Walmart or Radio Shack worker to go back to college.

    It really is a matter of where you choose to put your focus.”

  13. Oh, and by the way….

    I LOVE your list. I counted 18 of the 30 that brought pleasant sense memories to my awareness. Thank you. 🙂

  14. Hi Barrie,
    As a result of this awful incident, I re-commited myself to seeing the invisible students in my classrooms. I teach Psychology at Central New Mexico Community College. I have made it a point to say an extra “hello” to the students who never speak in class, who just always seem to blend into the background. I was once one of them, so I want them to know that I know they are there and that they do matter.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Kristin, that is such a proactive, positive way to approach this situation. And who knows what your extra effort might do for one of these students. That is wonderful!

  15. Hello Barrie,
    Thank you for yet another interesting and thought provoking post. As one can see it has generated a lot of feelings and opinions. When I read it, I couldn’t help comparing what is happening in the US and what is happening in Kenya almost 12000 kilometers away. The US has literally been at war since the first Gulf War to the present. Kenya on the other hand has, for the first time since her independence 50 years ago, declared war on Al-Shabaab and in so doing her army is now operating deep into Somalia. This is a group that is affiliated to Al-Qaida, a US nemesis. Kenya became a target of Al-Shabaab because, among other reasons, of her ties and friendship with the US. Like the US Kenya deployed her army to go after the enemy and ‘annihilate’ it. Of course course these groups are no match for a professional army like that of Kenya or the US. So what is the results of this violence? There are many. One of them is that there are amorphous groups of sympathizers right within us. These are people for whatever reasons have issues with the governments and society in general. These are the people who will spray bullets to innocent people in movie theater, throw grenades into churches, barber shops, bus-stops, hotels and barber shops and think they have driven their point home. Like in the US, in Kenya this crimes have been committed by Kenyans with ties to Al-Shabaab. Now the question is suppose the US and Kenya withdrew their armies from foreign soil, would that end the home grown terrorists activities? In my opinion it’s unlikely.
    Some of the returning soldiers may feel bitter, it has happened before, with the government and society for not appreciating them enough. (To illustrate this I recently watched a feature about homeless female US war veterans . Some of these were young beautiful and bitter girls of thirty or younger. Coincidentally on the same day a group of Kenya former freedom fighters were featured. Their main complaints were how they have been marginalized and generally ignored by those in power. Their children are bitter.) This scenario creates fertile ground for incidences like that which happened in the US and what is happening in Kenya who has been at war for only 10 months and her people are suffering far away from the battlefields. So what must we do? It’ s beyond most of us to determine whether our countries unleash violence, justified or not, to another country but in our own small individual ways we can resolve not to plant any seeds of violence. As a way of adding to our reasons of being grateful let’s remember the old adage; ‘violence begets violence’- avoid it in the first instance. A better world starts with everyone of us. Thanks Barrie for allowing me air my thoughts.
    Murigi.