By Máire Nakada
Distinguished Young Woman of America for 2015
It may sound strange to some people, but I have a habit of saying the things I am thankful for out loud when I am on my own. Last week I was driving when I decided to make a big list of all the things I am most thankful for in my life. I was sick for the last two weeks and decided it was a good way to be positive despite my poor health. My list went something like this:
“Dear God, thank you for giving me a wonderful family full of supportive siblings and hard working parents. Thank you for giving me the ability to study hard and be diligent in my school work so that one day I may help change the world. Thank you for introducing Distinguished Young Women into my life. Thank you for giving me two working legs that I can dance and run with. Thank you for giving me so much when you ask so little of me in return. Thank you for this beautiful day full of sunshine and greenness.”
I was so overwhelmed with how many things I have to be grateful for in my life. The most content feeling that I have ever felt washed over me and I felt so at peace for the rest of the drive. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the show Veggie Tales but there is one episode where Madame Blueberry, a very rich and greedy blueberry, buys all of these brand new appliances to make her feel happy. She finds that they make her even sadder and cannot figure out why she is so sad inside. In the end, she sees a young girl on her birthday sharing a single slice of pie with her parents at a picnic table. The girl is singing a song about how thankful she is for the things God gave her. The punchline of the song is, “for a thankful heart is a happy heart”. Madame Blueberry overhears this and has an epiphany about her life and why she is not happy. This scene runs through my head whenever I am feeling extra grateful for something. (Watch the video to hear the song.) The Thankfulness Song
Too often we find ourselves always wanting more – the next iPhone, those new Nikes, a pretty necklace that would go perfectly with that outfit you like – but at what point do we stop and realize those things won’t make us happy for the rest of our lives? Sure they cause temporary happiness and satisfaction but in the long run they are all just things. It’s time to focus on what you already have and realize you need nothing more than thankfulness.
When you are starting to feel sorry for yourself and get down in the doldrums, start listing off all of the things you have to be thankful for. You’ll soon see that there are too many to count and that you have a lot to be celebrating. Who knows, maybe you’ll have a Madame Blueberry epiphany too. Thankful hearts are happy hearts. What do you have to be thankful for today?
Máire Nakada is a college freshman at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, Alabama. Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, Máire was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of America for 2015. Learn more about Máire here!