Ever so often, we take for granted the things that most deserve our heartfelt gratitude. It is easy to overlook them, simply because little to no effort was required on our part. They are not the things that we had to go out and work hard to get. There was no 9-5 job requirement, no time card to punch, no sweat and no tears shed.
Yet through all that, gratitude must become a way of life for us. Gratitude must be viewed as an expression of quality, rather than an everyday cliche’ or a chore for which we get no reward. Gratitude is a positive attitude and an attribute to ones’ character.
A lifestyle of gratitude allows us to give thanks more for the things we already have, as opposed to believing and thanking God in advance for the things that we do not yet have.
Huh! A questioning look on my face…a creased brow.
Isn’t the latter and expression of my faith?
….believing, speaking, thanking, and calling those things that be not as though they already exist?
While that thought holds true when measured against God’s word, it is by far a greater good when we give thanks for what we have to make it easier for divine providence to open up the way for bountiful blessings and the things we did not have to flow into our lives, without us even asking.
Similarly to what Zig Ziglar once said,
“The more you recognize and express gratitude for the things you have, the more things you will have to express gratitude for.”
Research would further substantiate this with the evidence to show why gratitude is good and that it’s an expression of quality.
A well known world psychologist Robert Emmons of California, Davis, has studied gratitude and defines it in two parts: First, gratitude is an affirmation of goodness in the world, and second, gratitude requires the recognition that the sources of this goodness exists outside of individuals.
His work further suggests that a life of gratitude is not just associated with greater well-being , but that those who recorded things that had made them grateful had an improved sense of wellness, slept better and more, felt a greater sense of optimism and connectedness to others.
“Results suggest a conscious focus on blessings may have emotional and interpersonal benefits,” Emmons and his colleague Michael McCullough wrote in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. It was no surprise when both quickly noted that the benefits of gratitude are most pronounced when compared to the outcome when ones focus is on complaints and hassles.
GRATITUDE AS A WAY OF LIFE IN MY HOME
Gratitude is natural part of my lifestle and a positive attitude that my family and I demonstrate among us each day. Growing up as a child, my mom never allowed me to look over the wall into the yard of the Jones’ even if i wanted to. She was always so content with the little that she had, and taugh us to do the same as she gave things to us.
She prided hereself in sayings such as, ‘all that glitters is not gold’ and ‘be thankful for what you have.’
So what happened to the spirit of gratitude and contentment that my mom instilled into me?
As time progressed and I grew into adulthood, my perspective shifted somewhat and I began to long for certain things while I clearly overlooked the things that I had already been blessed with. My taste for the high end possessions came by my association with persons who I could not help but notice had much more, and far better than I did.
I never bothered to ask how they came by them. Not that they would have told me even if I did ask.
Even after I became a Christian, it grew to the point where I was praying prayers and thanking God in advance for that which I lusted in my heart after. Again, still forgetting to say thanks to God in acknowledgment of what I had.
Life did not get any better. I was still not seeing the ‘reward’ of my prayers until one day the Spirit of God began to deal with me and to show me the error of my ways. From one scripture to the next, I saw myself in the filthy garment of ‘lust of the eye,’ ‘pride of life’ and saw how ungrateful I had been for not thanking God for what He had already blessed me with.
He helped me to get my groove of an attitude of gratitude back and to channel my thoughts and words in a way that bring glory and honor to Him.
Now I want the world to know how my eyes beam, my heart leaps with joy as my soul claps with praise unto God as I keenly listen to one of the key words of my 18 month old grand-daughter – “thank you.”
I remember the day she first uttered that key phrase. As I stretched my hand out to her giving her a treat, I said to her say, “thank you.”
Amazingly, she did and has been saying it ever since. Likewise when she is giving us the adult anything her words to you, “thank you.”
WHY AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE IS THE BEST
People who consistently practice gratitude report a host of benefits. They range from physical, psychological to social.
Physical – stronger immune systems, less bothered by aches and pains, lower blood pressure, exercise more and take better care of their health, sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking.
Psychological – higher levels of positive emotions, more alert, alive and awake, more joy and pleasure, more optimism and happiness.
Social – more helpful, generous and compassionate, more forgiving, more outgoing, feels less lonely and isolated. [Why Gratitude Is Good]
I am reminded of what the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 that says, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
What does this mean and what was he Paul referring to? First, I beleive it is God’s presciption to us for how we can have an improved lifestyle. The word says, it is His will and plan for us. We must adopt it. Even in hardship and suffering, even in bitter disappointments, even when wrongly treated.
Why? The things that happened aren’t necessarily good things, but that you give God praise in the middle of it. As Christians we must believe that God will work amidst such situations to fulfill His good purpose in His children.
Secondy, I believe the benefits from Robert Emmons’ research/survey is what he was alluding to.
Clearly then, cultivating an attitude of gratitude will boost your well-being. And it also turns out to be, feeling grateful is among one of the simple things in life. Don’t you want your life to be simple? I do! So in everything, vow with me to give thanks.
Can you identify with anything from this post? What lessons have you learned? How do you go about cultivating an attitude of gratitude in your home, especially with young children? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts.
image 1 via consciouslifenews and image 2 flickr under CC License