Deeper Things Series – Week #3
Today’s post addresses the powerful practice of gratitude. When we choose gratitude over resentment, everything in our life brightens and expands.
Epicurus once said, “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not. Remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” For some of us, our dreams are still on the horizon–a career we love, a husband or wife, a family, or a home. When our goals seem so far away, we start to lose hope and begin to feel that we haven’t gotten what we deserve. However, when we take stock of our lives, we find that there are many things to be grateful for–exactly where we are. Not ten years from now; not in the larger home we desire. But right here, and right now.
In many seasons of our lives, it is easy to allow resentment to grow. But the easiest choice is rarely the wisest one.
When discontentment moves in and takes up residence within us, it affects how we treat our loved ones, our community, our jobs, and ourselves. I know this, because I have been there many times.
There is a better way. When we choose to focus on the good in our lives, we find that there is so much to be thankful for. Do you have clothes on your back? Do you have plenty to eat, and a roof over your head? Do you have people who love you? Do you have enough money to live on each day? If so, you have everything you need. Add to that the extra possessions and amenities in your life, and you are blessed indeed.
Gratitude is a conscious choice that we make every single day. It requires stubbornness–perseverance. Life will throw you some pretty wicked curve balls. If you don’t keep your eyes fixed on the positive side, it is easy to become bitter. Don’t. Stay joyful; stay tenderhearted. Look at your life and see how you’ve been blessed. To be a truly grateful person, your goal in every situation must be to find the good, and focus only on that.
I have found that saying “thank you” as many times as possible throughout the day has two incredible results. First, it changes who I am. Second, it changes my interactions with everyone around me. I want to share with you 4 relationships that benefit from gratitude.
- Your relationship with your spouse. What a difference it makes when I show my spouse some gratitude! Everyone wants to feel appreciated–especially by the person they work the hardest for. If I take the time to thank him for his acts of service, his hard work, and his contributions, the affection between us skyrockets. There are two ways to tell your spouse “thank you.” First, you can thank him for the little things he does. (When he takes out the trash, tell that man thank you! It may be his “chore” to complete, but if he didn’t do it, it would fall on you. Remember that, and be grateful for his willingness to help around the house.) Second, you can thank him periodically as a blanket statement for everything he does. For being a good provider; for being such a good father; for helping you at home; for his work ethic. When your husband or wife feels appreciated, they are more motivated to treat you how you want to be treated.
- Your relationship with your kids. This one has been surprising to me! When I tell my son “thank you,” and encourage him to thank his daddy, he is a much more sunny, joyful little boy. It is amazing how gratitude slowly but surely enters your heart, and changes who you are. Children thrive when you expose them to both boundaries and kindness. When you teach your kids to be grateful, you are preparing them for a wonderful life. And when you show them gratitude for the little ways they help you, their faces just glow.
- Your relationship with God. Walking with God is not about what you can get out of it; it is about having a relationship with Him. But I’ll be transparent here about my experiences. When I express thankfulness to God, and strive to be a good steward of His blessings, I find that He blesses me even more. Luke 6:38 says, “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you” (ESV). God blesses us when we show Him we are thankful–with our words, and with our actions.
- Your view of yourself. Gratitude gives you less time and energy to look down on yourself. When you’re busy extending and receiving thankfulness, there is less opportunity to complain and feel dejected. You begin to see yourself as a small part of the larger whole. You are no longer the hero (or villain) of your story, but instead one character out of many. Your focus shifts to others–how you can help them, what you can do to lift them up, and how you can celebrate life with them. It takes you out of yourself and involves you in a movement that is bigger than you.
I encourage you to incorporate gratitude in your daily life. Say thank you for the blessings you see around you. Say thank you to your spouse, your kids, and your friends. Seek to have a heart that receives and celebrates the good things in life. What are your favorite ways to express gratitude? Please share below!
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