Thankfulness is a powerful tool in the pursuit of a good life. We all know how to express it when we have received a special gift or experienced a joyous event, but the idea of gratitude in the midst of challenges and overwhelming circumstances is foreign to many of us.
Focusing on what we do not have obscures the value of what we do have. Reliving our mistakes prevents us from celebrating our accomplishments and recounting misfortune can cause us to miss new opportunities. Holding a grudge requires us to constantly remind ourselves of how we were offended, otherwise the human mind is inclined to dismiss the matter and move on.
More than a reflex action, thankfulness is a deliberate attitude that must first be embraced and then nurtured or practiced. It requires commitment and effort and in so doing often conflicts with the ego and its natural tendency to fixate on trespasses.
A decision to be thankful in all circumstances will present a spiritual challenge in that it will not always be ushered in by pleasure or happiness. Sometimes it will have to be summoned in the midst of disappointment, sadness or loss…at a time when you have to dig really deep to find something for which to be thankful. But this is where determination and commitment produce dividends of hope and peace.
The concept of a gratitude journal is not new but it is still timely. I first heard about it from Oprah. At first glance one would think Oprah Winfrey’s fame and fortune could fix any unhappiness in her life. Not so. She began her gratitude journal because they did not define her joy nor could they cause a glimmer of light in a haunting past. Acknowledging the good in bad circumstances and speaking gratitude was a greater gift than she could purchase.
Every day that we open our eyes and draw breath presents a reason to be thankful. Our creator still has a purpose for us. Consider taking a one month challenge to record three things for which you are grateful each day. Dig deep or state the obvious, but try to focus on the blessings of relationships, health, sufficient provisions and opportunities to serve others. Recently I had the privilege of providing food for a homeless man in the presence of my young grandson. In my journal that day I was thankful for a teachable moment.
The Bible tells us to be thankful “in” all circumstances but many misinterpret that to mean, “for” all circumstances. God certainly does not ask us to rejoice over the likes of lost employment or poor health. Rather, He wants us to recognize the gifts that remain in spite of those circumstances. Most of us overlook so many blessings as we indulge in the woe of our situations. Giving thanks opens our hearts to receive the positive energy that will sustain us until the urgency passes.
Gratitude truly is an attitude for the other 364 days not set aside for its celebration.
Thankfulness is a heart condition that improves the quality of our lives!