Gratitude…..What is it, anyway? What good can it do in my life?
Gratitude is a lovely attitude that smooths the rugged spots in the every-day rough and tumble. Gratitude is being aware of the fact that the world doesn’t owe us a living, yet we still get by. Gratitude is being aware of the many millions and billions of people there are in the world who do not have it as good as we do, for whatever reason.
Gratitude is being able to see the best in a situation, to gather hope in the face of fears about the future. Gratitude, I think, stands in sharp contrast to regret, when we look at the past, both recent and distant. Regret focuses on what went wrong; gratitude focuses on what went right.
Many people are speaking out right now about the irony of a situation in which we celebrate our thankfulness by eating a big dinner with our family and friends, and then go immediately to buy more consumer goods. True gratitude, genuine thankfulness, should, in my opinion, lead to a state of satisfaction and contentment. There is no need to get a great deal on a new electronic gadget if one is truly satisfied and content.
Gratitude can be extended both to the Creator and Source of all good that comes to us, and it can also be extended to those individuals in our lives that bless us in many ways. In fact, we would all feel a bit richer if we took the time to think of those people who have helped us along the way, and take a moment to breathe a word of thanks to God for them. Where possible, it would also benefit us if we told those individuals that we appreciate them.
The words “thank you” are words of unity and peace. They are an admission that we cannot do it all alone, that we need each other. Hearing the words “thank you” can make an otherwise drab day bloom into a joyful one.
Jesus said it is more blessed to give than to receive. In other words, giving will ultimately make us happier than getting. That sure seems counter-intuitive to the 21st century gimme-gimme mindset, doesn’t it? Of course, one could counter that they want to go Black Friday shopping so they can get good deals on things to give to other people. That is good. Especially if those people need the things you are buying. Especially if you are buying things with love to give to people you love.
Too often our holiday shopping is done in a spirit of anxiety and competitiveness. We want to be the one to wow others with our costly “generous” gifts to them. Perhaps we are afraid someone will be disappointed if we don’t come through with the thing they want from us. And of course we don’t want to forget to give some token gift to each person it is socially expected for us to give to. We eventually put ourselves in debt just to save some perceived reputation we have.
I’d like to suggest that a genuine word of thanks will portray your appreciation to those individuals just as well as a token gift you can’t really afford.
The Bible tells us that if we give, we will be given to, pressed down, heaped up, overflowing. I personally think this is talking about giving when there is nothing in it for ourselves, no social gain or status associated with the gift. It also says we will reap what we sow. If we sow thankfulness and gratitude to others, we are likely to get it back.
These are just some thoughts I’ve had this morning before Thanksgiving. I am thankful that God has led me in this journey to a place of looking at the good side of things, of endeavoring to count my blessings on a regular basis. No, I have not arrived, and I still react negatively first in many situations, but I am aware of the gains to be made by developing an ever more grateful attitude, and that awareness is something I am grateful for!
Be grateful! Have a blessed Thanksgiving!