• Matthew Kaufman

Being Mathematically Thankful

Updated: Dec 19, 2019

Here at Chapter of the Day, we're thankful for you, our readers (there, I said it). But I'll leave waxing poetic about the nature of gratitude to people like Kephart and Emerson, that's more their style. Me? I'm interested in being mathematically thankful.

That's right, this article is all about the mathematics of gratitude.

So first off, let’s assume you are healthy. By this, I’m assuming you are sound in both mind and body. Right off the bat, we can say you are in the lucky 75 percent. In 2004, after all, the CDC reported that 25 percent of people suffered from mental illness. This is, of course, only documented cases and the number could be much higher as many people might have mental issues and don’t have them documented. I’m sure if you’re around your family this holiday, you might know what I’m referencing (zing).

As an aside, if you are struggling with mental illness, let me just share how thankful we are for your fortitude and courage. Something worth considering this Thanksgiving is the fact that somewhere, someone (probably quite a few people) are undoubtedly grateful for you, and all the richness you bring to the world just by being here.

Now, about being physically sound. Per the Social Security Administration, you have approximately a 0.268 probability of having a disability before reaching your natural retirement age (this specifically applies to young adults born in '97). That means that physical and mental health is limited to about 55% of the American population (sorry for our international readers, you'll have to replicate these calculations for yourself).

Now let’s assume you have a home to stay in. EndHomelessness.org claims that about 17 people out of every 10,000 is homeless.

This means that only about 0.5480667 of the population can give thanks for good health in body and mind and a roof over their head..

Then there is the issue of food. Many Americans need the support of a food-assistance program at some point in life. A sizable number, however, will never receive such assistance. Using only this number, we can calculate that just barely over 24% of Americans are in good health in body and mind, have a roof over their head, and are getting the food they need.

Currently, the U.S. Bureau of Labor puts unemployment at 3.6%, but that doesn't factor in temporary employment and underpaid employs. Still, if you have any job, good health, are mentally well, have enough to eat, and have somewhere secure to sleep, you are more fortunate than 3-out-of-4 Americans. Which is staggering, really.

The point of this isn't to hammer home how lucky you may (or may not) be. Instead, it's to hopefully open your eyes to see how many opportunities there are, all around us, to demonstrate our gratitude by helping others. Perhaps for you that looks like going out of your way to let someone know how much you care about them, or raising goods for a local food bank, or even joining a home-building organization dedicated to ending homelessness in America.

Or perhaps you yourself are struggling this Thanksgiving. If that's the case, then know that you aren't alone. So very often, we're scared to reach out to others because we think we might be a burden. In reality, however, most individuals will lack the things they need at some point in life, and very willing to reach out and help others currently going through those very struggles.

So let me share this once more: We're grateful for you, and how you bring something unique and much-needed to this world. It simply wouldn't be the same place without you.

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