Gratitude

Gratitude

Nov 19
Gratitude

Thanksgiving just might be my favorite holiday.  Partially because I love to eat and I love “Thanksgiving” foods.  Partially because I love seeing my family and spending time with them.  And partially because of the things people do at this time of year.

One of the things I’ve which I’m particularly fond is when people do the daily Facebook post about what they are thankful for.  It’s a healthy habit.  There’s even evidence to support that being a thankful person makes you happier and healthier.

I recently discovered the idea of a “gratitude journal.”  Once a week you write about things for which you are thankful.  I want to start doing this, where I actually take time out to write about something for which I am grateful.  I started this once upon a time, but it wasn’t with this kind of purpose.  God has already given me the notebook to write in, via a dear friend who made it for me and decorated it — my very first entry is about her and my gratitude for her and the book she made for me.  But starting today I’m going to write in it at least once a week.  Every week I will write about the things for which I am grateful from that week.

I found some good advice on gratitude journaling from an expert on the subject.  Dr. Robert Emmons is the leading researching on gratitude.  He gives this advice:

  1. Don’t just go through the motions.  Make a point of actually trying to become happier and more thankful.  Writing something down won’t change you.  You have to actually be grateful.
  2. Don’t list a bunch of things, but rather go into detail about one thing each day.  Really examine why you are grateful and explain it.
  3. Focus more on people for whom you are grateful, rather than the things for which you are grateful.
  4. Think about the unexpected blessings of the day.  The things that surprised you are often the things for which you are the most grateful.
  5. Don’t write every day.  We have a tendency to become oversensitized to positive events.  In other words, the more we focus on the positive, the harder it often is to impress us or for us to see something “new” that’s positive.  Write once or twice a week instead of every day.
Interestingly enough, I’ve been able to witness some of this in my Tuesday night Bible study.  I wish I could say we do this each week, but we don’t — although I hope to get back to where it’s a regular part of our meeting together.  We often will ask each person to share where they have seen God at work over the last week.  It seems that the happiest people, the ones who seem to have the most joy, also have the most to say during those moments.  It’s not uncommon to hear people say that they have more than one thing they wish to share, or that they’re having a tough time deciding what their one thing should be.  The joy in those people is obvious.

 

While some people might believe that these people are happy because they have a lot to be thankful for, I believe the opposite is true.  Based on the research in this area, I believe they are joyful because they have learned how to be thankful.  I believe joy follows gratitude, not the other way around.  If you think about it, you probably know a miserable person who has a lot to be thankful for — they are either unable or unwilling to see it.

 

There have been several times when I’ve gushing about my joy in God, about my gratitude for Him and what He has done in my life, when someone will shoot it down with a comment like, “Of course you’re going to be grateful — you have a great life.”  I’ve had people call me a “golden child” of God.  People have said that He likes me better.  They said that I can’t understand why their lives are miserable.  They’ll tell me I’ve never suffered.

 

I will contend that I am joyful not because of my blessings, but that I am blessed because I take joy in my God.

 

If we are only joyful after we get what we want, then wouldn’t that mean God was buying our love?  Who wants that?  Anybody will devote themselves to you if you lavish gifts on them, and all they will see in you is a source of gifts.  They’ll never love you for who you are.

 

Have you ever noticed the difference between a child who loves getting gifts and a child who loves what you give them?  There’s a huge difference.  I’ve given gifts to a child who ripped through presents, barely acknowledging what the gift even was before calling out “Next!”  And I’ve given gifts to a child who upon opening the gift, no matter what it is, exclaims excitedly, “I’ve always wanted this!  How did you know I wanted this?!”

 

Can you guess which child I give nicer gifts to?

 

Imagine if you walk into a house and one child greets you with “What did you bring me?” while another child greets you with “I’m so glad you came!”

 

Which kind of child are you?

 

Here’s a great video that I think everyone should watch:  http://skitguys.com/videos/item/thankful1

 

If you’re interested in keeping a gratitude journal, here’s a link to an article to help you get started.

 

I do have a great life.  I have a lot to be thankful for.  But it has nothing to do with me.

 

It’s because I have a great God.

 

You do, too.  Take some time to let Him know.  Or even better, let Him know how grateful you are by telling everyone around you about it.

 
Frankly, I don’t want to be around people who are not thankful.  I don’t want to hear anything along the lines of “I have nothing to be grateful for,” “my life sucks,” or anything remotely along those lines.  That might be selfish and petty of me, I’m not sure.  But I do know that there are people who can pull the joy out of anything.  I don’t want anyone stealing my joy.  I am grateful to my God, I want to praise Him, and I can’t tolerate anyone diminishing that.

1 comment

  1. Stephen Currier

    Golden Child, eh? Must be because of your hair (hehe).

    I find that as a rather lazy individual I do not wish to spend a whole lot more energy than is necessary and since it is harder not to be in a mood than it is to be in one, I try to choose to be in a good mood. It also helps (in that I am lazy) that there are so many people and things around me that I have no control over that give me the reason to be joyful. It is just as easy to find things to be happy about as it is to be unhappy about. Just compare yourself to someone living in a third world country, if you have to. We are all blessed, it is just whether you choose to see yourself that way or not. I can choose to see myself for being blessed with great health, though my eating habits are not the greatest and my excercise routine consists of occationally lifting a laundry basket. Or I can choose to see myself as being cursed because I have had Kidney stones and now I have to avoid salt like the plague just to keep from having more want to make an exodus via my “tenders” as my nephew would put it. Be happy and excited about the blessing God lavishes on you daily or ignore what he gives you and complain about things that don’t really matter. It is your choice.

    Oh and if you are looking for somewhere to start, I usually thank God at least once a week for having a friend like Chris Taylor. :)

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