Gratitude is a funny feeling. Sometimes thankfulness overflows from our hearts, but other times, it’s hard to appreciate the circumstances we find ourselves in. Maybe that’s why there are so many idioms reminding us to be grateful. From reflections on “blessings in disguise” to exclamations “thanking our lucky stars,” the message is clear — give thanks.
Blessing in Disguise
Your smartphone breaks … causing you to stay off social media for a week. Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise — in other words, something that seemed terrible or unlucky but turned out to be pretty good. This idiom comes from the 1746 hymn “Since All the Downwards Tracts of Time” by James Hervey. The hymn suggests God is so wise that even when he sends “crosses,” or trials we have to endure, they turn out to be “blessings in disguise.”
Thank Your Lucky Stars
This expression is all about being grateful for one’s good fortune. It probably dates back to ancient beliefs that the stars and other celestial bodies had influence and control over our lives. A version of this idiom appears in Ben Johnson’s 1599 play Every Man Out of His Humour, when a character declares, “I thank my stars for it.”
The Grass Is Always Greener on the Other Side of the Fence
This is one idiom with deep roots. Way back in the first century, the Roman poet Ovid wrote, “The harvest is always richer in another man’s field.” This means that it’s hard to be grateful for what you have. It’s human nature to be envious and to want what we don’t already possess.
Don’t Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth
No one likes an ungrateful person. And that’s what this saying is all about. Essentially, it means that you should not be rude or unappreciative when you receive a favor. The phrase is from Middle English and appeared in a 1546 work by writer John Heywood as, “No man ought to look a given horse in the mouth.” Back then, one way to tell the age of a horse was to inspect its teeth. But if the horse was a gift, checking the teeth to tell the quality of the gift would come off as impolite.
When something has both advantages and disadvantages, it’s said to be a mixed blessing. For some people, living near a major freeway is a “mixed blessing” — there’s a lot of noise, but the convenience makes up for it. The saying dates back to the 1930s, when it first appeared in a Discovery magazine article.
Be Thankful for Small Favors
This idiom reminds us that we should be grateful for the small stuff. It’s usually applied in challenging or frustrating circumstances. Things may be bad — but there’s always a silver lining.
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