“Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire.
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?
Be thankful when you don’t know something,
For it gives you the opportunity to learn.
Be thankful for your limitations,
because they give you opportunities for improvement.
Be thankful for each new challenge,
because it will build your strength and character.
Be thankful for your mistakes,
They will teach you valuable lessons.
Be thankful when you’re tired and weary
Because it means you’ve made a difference.
It’s easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who
Are also thankful for the setbacks.
Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles,
And they can become your blessings.”
I was one of many in a long line at the market with similar items in our shopping carts. While it appeared we were planning to do similar holiday baking, we each clearly had very different attitudes about the holidays.
“I only have to survive another month or so to get through Christmas,” the woman ahead of me said. “I keep thinking something will be better the next year, but now it’s that next year, and I’m dreading it all.”
The woman ahead of her laughed.
“I agree,” she said. “I told my husband we should go on a long trip to avoid everything.”
We may be starting to hear Christmas carols proclaiming that this is the most wonderful time of the year, but it may not feel like that in your home, or in your heart, or in your head.
But it is what happens in your heart and in your head that really affects everything else. The women ahead of me at the market could go to an idyllic resort next year, but that would not change their hearts.
What does change our hearts? Being thankful does.
I’ve heard people say, “I wish I knew what God’s will was for me, I’d love it written on a billboard.” I have said similar things myself.
But God does tell us His will. There is a passage in the Bible that says, “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
There it is, in black and white. God designed us, and the Grand Designer knows His design. God created us in such a way that being thankful changes us.
It does not say to be thankful FOR all circumstances, but IN all circumstances. There is an ocean of difference, just as there is a world of terrible situations that nobody could be thankful for; yet even in the midst of dark times, we can be thankful that God will walk through them with us. We don’t have to go through anything alone.
If we ask Him, God will guide us, grow us, enlarge our hearts and deepen our character. As He comforts us, we become better comforters of others. His Divine touch often brings precious surprises out of even the hardest struggles. Being thankful and trusting Him gives us access to His love and tender care.
When I start listing the things I am grateful for, the list grows, and the more thankful I become. Many people practice “thank therapy” daily by listing at least five things they are thankful for. Reread the quote at the top and see if you find new things to add to your list.
It’s great when science proves something that God stated. Last week, I wrote about a seminar by Dr. Mike Marino on anxiety and depression. Dr. Marino mentioned the importance of gratitude and cited a study by Dr. Daniel Amen and Dr. Noelle Nelson.
While Dr. Nelson worked on her book “The Power of Appreciation,” Dr. Amen scanned her brain twice. The first scan was after she focused 30 minutes on everything she loved about her life and then later after concentrating on what she hated about her life. The first scan showed a healthy brain, and the second showed a very different brain with significantly decreased activity in the areas involving coordination, problem solving, mood, memory and temper control.
Negative thoughts clearly change the brain in negative ways, and positive, hopeful, thankful thoughts help the brain work better.
Yesterday was Thanksgiving. Interestingly, when I first tried to type that word, I hit the wrong computer key and it came out as “Thanksliving.” I stared at the word for a while and thought it apropos. Thanksgiving comes once a year, and hopefully yours was filled with gratitude, a shared meal and time with loved ones.
Thanksgiving may be a one-day, but “Thanksliving” can be a yearlong attitude.
Cindy can be reached at [email protected].