The camera pans through a dimly lit old house. It is dark with not much light emanating from anywhere. Dust covers everything in various thicknesses. Countertops are dirty and strewn with clutter. The living area is unkept and grimy. Finally, the camera settles on a gnarled-up old hermit sitting grumpily in a beat-up high-backed leather chair.
What words come to mind when you envision this scene? I would wager a significant sum of money that one of those words is not thankful. Well, perhaps just thankful that it is not your life. I imagine the pictures described above as the type of spirit that hovers around those who do not live a life of thankfulness. Descriptive words such as critical, ungrateful, lonely, and uncaring seem to characterize people who are not thankful.
With all of the problems in society today, why be thankful? Life is a struggle just to make ends meet. What is there even to be thankful for? These are good questions, but they feed our own doubts and fears. They also focus on the negative. That is a sure-fire way to stay stuck under the burdens of life.
Thankfulness, on the other hand, views life from a positive perspective. What is the good I can find in this situation? Additionally, thankfulness is infectious. Have you ever been around someone who is genuinely thankful? Your attitude will begin to change, or you will just want to get away from them!
Here are three ways we can begin to build our thankful muscles:
- Take baby steps. It is nearly impossible to radically change our attitude overnight. Recognizing that we desire a change is the first step in the battle. If you find yourself wanting to be more thankful, start with little steps in the right direction. Say “thank you” when someone does something nice for you. Refrain from commenting in a dissatisfying situation when you know you would have previously. There are many ways to experience little wins as we begin to step forward on a new path.
- Make a list. Start listing all the things for which you are thankful. This could be written down or just a mental list. Speaking these verbally seems to be helpful to me. My wife even has a little game she plays with our children. If they express an attitude of not being thankful she will have them immediately list three things for which they are grateful. It sure helps to cut down on the complaining!
- The power of optimism. People who are optimistic expect the best out of life. When we are looking for something to get upset, about we will probably find it. On the contrary, if we look for things to be thankful for we have a pretty good chance of finding them. Our attitude towards all the events that occur in our lives is a choice. When we plant seeds of genuine thankfulness, we can expect a bountiful harvest in our lives.
A life lived in the setting described in the first paragraph would be miserable. Perhaps it would be a good idea to take a step back and re-evaluate our attitude when life gets hectic and we are tempted to become ungrateful. I encourage you to let thankfulness be a tool that empowers you to enjoy life.
Question: How do you stay grateful? What are some things for which you are thankful today? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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