Give thanks; gratitude makes us happy

Because life is mostly made up of little experiences, occasionally interrupted by big events, it’s easy to take the little things for granted. But Shutterfly, the photography and image-sharing company, offers a list of 100 things, large and small, that we ought to single out for our gratitude this Thanksgiving.

Our homes, our incomes and our savings are three large items to be thankful for — especially if we still have them after nearly two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. Clean water is something we take for granted in America, but much of the world lacks it, reports the Republic. We take our indoor plumbing and electricity for granted, too. We expect the lights to go on when we flip a switch, potable water to flow when we open a faucet or the toilet to flush when a lever is pulled.

Most Americans have access to excellent healthcare. Sure, it’s expensive and our government has been incapable of improving it through much-needed meaningful reforms, but if we experience a health scare or get into an accident, most of us will be given the best of care.

Technology innovation is a big blessing. It allows millions to work from home, rather than the office, and, aside from the rancor and divisiveness enabled by social media, it will solve many more problems than it creates, and already is, according to Asia’s online training platform EDUCBA.

Then there are the really big little things to be thankful for — like pizza. I don’t know that I’ve ever met anyone who doesn’t enjoy it. It’s festive and delicious and crosses party lines. No matter how bad our political divisions get, pizza can bring us together.

How about coffee? To me, this is one of life’s greatest little experiences and one I enjoy twice every single morning. The process of making coffee, the wonderful scent that fills the air as it drips into my mug, the waiting until the temperature is just right before enjoying the first glorious sip…

And bacon. Sure, it’s a bit controversial for some, and it’s an early victim of growing inflation, but we can still run down to the convenience store for a dozen eggs and a package of bacon and life is good all morning long.

Then there’s the afternoon nap. COVID’s working-from-home revolution has enabled the greatest increase in afternoon mental agility in the history of napdom.

And the belly laugh. It comes easily to the young as they frolic. We forget that we don’t do enough of it as adults — until we gather with our childhood friends and enjoy many much-needed belly laughs. Now more than ever we need more belly laughing in America to disrupt our seriousness and political anger, which is resulting in a narrow understanding of current events and our fellow human beings.

Freedom of speech is certainly one of the biggest things we Americans should be grateful for at Thanksgiving — and every day — but it’s something too many of our fellow citizens are trampling on. We all need to renew our understanding of the importance of free speech and why it’s so crucial to a civil, well-functioning and clearer-thinking republic.

In any event, whether it’s for something as large as free speech or as small as pizza, giving thanks for our blessings is good for our health, according to the Harvard Health Publishing. Gratitude makes us happy. Which is why we must go out of our way to embrace it this Thanksgiving.

Tom Purcell is an author and humor columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Email him at