Taking the time to express gratitude for the little things

Joe Pisani bemoans the endless cycle of shoveling snow.

Joe Pisani bemoans the endless cycle of shoveling snow.

Joe Pisani /

Did you ever wake up and wonder, “What the #*!@%& do I have to be thankful for?”

Sometimes I have trouble counting my blessings, and other times I can’t understand why people who have so little are so thankful. Shouldn’t they want a Mercedes-Maybach? A timeshare in Hilton Head? Or an invitation from Anna Wintour to the Met Gala?

Let me tell you about two people who understand gratitude. Russ is in a 12 Step program, and every morning when he wakes up, he falls on his knees and says a prayer of thanksgiving for another day ... and before going to bed at night, he gets on his knees again and says thank you for making it through another day sober. (He has arthritis in both knees so this is no small sacrifice.) Since he stopped drinking, saying thank you has been an essential part of life.

Jocelyn is 50 years younger. She doesn’t belong to a recovery program, and she doesn’t have arthritis. She’s a Division 1 athlete at Yale, where she’s studying biochemistry. But she has something in common with Russ. She begins her day by saying thank you and ends it the same way.

Are their lives free of trials, challenges and pain? Not really. Nevertheless, they say thank you even when they’re confronting adversity.

Thanksgiving is a day set aside to express our gratitude in the tradition of the Pilgrims, who were beset by struggles and hardship but nonetheless recognized the importance of thanking their Creator.

Be thankful for big things and be thankful for little things. It’s a great way to live. It’s the only way to live. Studies show that people who have the attitude of gratitude are happier, healthier and live longer. People who aren’t thankful are generally miserable. I’ve often thought that people who don’t think they have anything to be thankful for aren’t looking hard enough or they’re not looking at all.

In keeping with the holiday, I wrote down a few things I’m grateful for, and at the top of my list are ... my new gutter guards.

After 35 years, we finally had them installed, thanks to my wife’s insistence. She didn’t want to see me climbing the 25-foot ladder to clean the leaves out anymore, because sooner or later I’d come tumbling down. So thank you, Sandy, and thank you, Costco.

I also want to say thank you for my family members, give or take one or two, and I certainly want to say thank you for our dog Bella, who has taught me a lot about the importance of living a day at a time.

I’m thankful to be an American, but I’m not going to make a patriotic proclamation, because I know that saying you’re proud to be an America nowadays gets some people angry in our politically charged country. So let me phrase it another way: I’m thankful I don’t live in Iran, Iraq, Venezuela, Russia, Canada, France, China or Sweden.

I’m thankful for my 10-year-old Toyota. Even though my family nags me incessantly to buy a new car, I refuse because a new car would mean I’d have to pay more taxes and I don’t want to pay more than I already do. This is a form of passive resistance in the tradition of Henry David Thoreau.

I’m thankful for loyal readers and for my children and grandchildren.

I’m thankful I believe in God.

I’m thankful for the meal I’ll be eating on Thanksgiving even though it will be prepared by Whole Foods. (Mom, where are you when we need you?)

I’m especially thankful for the person who anonymously paid for me and my friend Lenny at the Shelton Starbucks on Nov. 15 at 2:10 p.m. and bought our two protein boxes and candy cane Frappuccinos. (I hope my cardiologist isn’t reading this.) What an amazing act of generosity. Grazie molto.

And like Russ and Jocelyn, I’m especially thankful I saw another day.

Joe Pisani can be reached at joefpisani@yahoo.com.