Why We Cannot Constantly Be Thankful

Why We Cannot Constantly Be Thankful

Moreen McGrath, Staff Writer

With the advent of social media, humanity’s holiday celebration tactics seem to have been boiled down by society to two major routes able to be taken in terms of possible attitudes concerning the holiday at hand. There are those who enjoy the holiday and actively partake in the festivities and traditions associated with the event while incorporating their social media into celebrations. These are the people who will tweet a quick Bible verse while waiting for their Easter Vigil Mass to begin, those who post pictures of their younger siblings’ reactions to opening up the gift they had been wishing for — those who decide that the joys of the holidays are worth sharing with the world. Conversely, there are individuals who, while probably enjoying the holiday in their own respects, unknowingly campaign against the role social media has taken on in terms of holiday celebrations. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it is highly likely that we will all run into many people fitting into this group while scrolling through our timelines.

Within recent years, the grand list of things that we are each thankful for has become one of the most common Thanksgiving posts to appear on any given social media outlet; this post in particular seems to come under the attack of these negative campaigners every year. In response to our lists of blessings and joys, these individuals often respond, “Why do we only say that we’re thankful for these things once a year? Shouldn’t we be grateful for what we have every day?” which honestly does seem like a valid question. And of course the answer is obvious. Of course we should always be thankful for the gifts given to us, and of course we should always seek to remember precisely how blessed we are. However, it is completely impossible to constantly and actively be as grateful as we seek to be on Thanksgiving. That’s probably why we have a whole day set aside for doing so.

While this same attitude of, “Well shouldn’t we always be doing that?” of course is apparent on nearly any given holiday, I find it to be most so during the Thanksgiving season. Or maybe it’s that I find it most harmful during the Thanksgiving season. While we are attempting to show our gratefulness for all the things we love most in our lives, we are passively being told by others that our appreciation is not good enough and that we should constantly be doing more. “Think of even more things to be thankful for — you live a privileged life and should be conscious of that. Attempt to reflect upon this fact every day of the year. Show this appreciation every day of the year.” It’s exhausting. And that is precisely the reason why humans simply will never be able to fulfill the wishes of those making such demands.

Despite having a higher functioning capacity than the world’s finest supercomputers, the human brain is still only capable of doing so much at once. As high school students, though, we all probably already knew that. If we try to do too many things at once, our brain becomes distracted from fully completing a singular task, and if we continue overexerting ourselves for an extended period of time, we become exhausted and mentally drained (again, our homework has probably taught us this all too well). While trying to fulfill the everyday functions of life while also balancing a social life, school, work, and home-related responsibilities and performing countless other tasks to ensure that our lives keep running smoothly, doing something such as being actively thankful for all the blessings in our lives becomes a mental and physical drain of energy that could otherwise be preserved and put toward completing one of the other the numerous obligations resting upon our shoulders. Simply, we do not have the mental capacity to permit us to show the amount of appreciation normally expressed during Thanksgiving on every other day of the year. Especially when combined with all the other tasks that other holidays would demand that we see to every day. Always do this; always do that. We would stop functioning, exhausting ourselves to the point of extreme mental fatigue. If we want to keep on completing the tasks of life, we simply cannot be doing everything to the fullest extent of our ability.

Such a concept can also be seen in terms of our caring for others. When we hear news coming from the life of a loose acquaintance, we usually do not respond with the same emotional force that which we would if the events were happening in the lives of our closest friends and family. This is, again, because we are unable to constantly be empathizing. We understand the sadness felt when a best friend or family member is going through a difficult situation, and we all have probably felt the secondhand gloom which one incurs by going through the situation along their side. Now take this intense feeling, and multiply it by seven billion, which is what we would be forced to feel if we were to attempt to take on caring for every single person on the planet in the same capacity as those closest to us. Our brains would be unable to handle the extreme amount of information necessary to process, and our bodies would begin to wane due to the extreme stress of feeling so many emotions all at once. The end result is the same. We would shut down. We simply cannot do everything at once.

Because of these human limitations, we will never be able to constantly be as thankful as we are on Thanksgiving, and that’s okay. We shouldn’t feel badly for the fact that we typically only openly speak about how thankful we are for our food, family, home, and health once a year. As long as we do remember our blessings throughout the year and remember to take brief moments every once in awhile to be grateful for them, we are doing enough. So this year, we must not allow the posts of these social media scrooges to put us down. Post your lists, be thankful as you please, and hope that their attitudes toward common posts and sentiments are changed. Social media has become an integral part in the twenty-first century holiday celebration, and, again, that’s okay. We must simply remember to not allow the diatribes to dictate how we choose to celebrate and how much we choose to demonstrate. We’re only human, and we’re doing enough.