Happy #GratiTuesday my friends!
What is #GratiTuesday, you ask? I’d like to define it as a weekly practice reminding us to show thanks for what we have in our lives, because, well, it’s an important thing to do. I was listening to a sermon today from Life Church with Pastor, Craig Groeschel, and his latest series on Positivity, and this weekend’s sermon was on gratitude. It really made me think twice about the practice and how personally, I don’t practice gratitude as often as I should.
Gratitude is the secret to happiness, or rather people who are happy are usually happy because they are grateful. Gratitude helps us keep in perspective what we truly have and how blessed we really are. It keeps attitudes of entitlement at bay. It helps us understand that what we have is enough. Overall, it helps us gain perspective in our lives and helps us to better appreciate what and who we truly have.
I know most of us will go about our day finding so much to quickly complain about. We complain about having to go to work and how much we hate our jobs, when in reality, our jobs are what provide us with the financial means to sustain our comfortable lifestyles. We complain how there is never anything to eat in our fully-packed refrigerators, when in reality, there are so many dying of hunger. We complain about how the cell phone we just bought six months ago is now outdated or how our coffee wasn’t made right at Starbucks, when in reality all these things are luxury items that many could never afford. We complain about the people who drive too slow on the freeways, when in reality we’re lucky to own a car. All we seem to do is complain.
Things could always be better. Upgraded. Better quality. More expensive. Faster. Smarter. Cheaper. On and on and on. And yet never do we say, “you know what, this is enough. I am happy with what I have. I am happy with who I have. I am happy with the things that are in my life. I am happy with my life” No. We always want more. And it’s human nature to want more, so I’m not saying we are terrible people for being this way, but because we are this way, it’s no wonder that we are so unhappy with our lives. Ingratitude breeds pride. It breeds the attitude that “I deserve more and I deserve better.”
I’ve come to learn that contentment truly is the key to happiness. When we give up that desire for more, and take a second look at all that we do have, we will find that what we do have is enough. But it’s hard to be happy with what we have, isn’t it? And mostly it’s because there are so many other better options out there. But the thing I have learned about these so-called “better options” is that their appeal never lasts. It is never fully satisfying. Why? Because once we do attain them, they lose their attractiveness and then we seek out something new all over again, because we have the option to do so.
This makes me think about those people in the world who truly have nothing or very little. Why are they so happy? Did you ever think it was because they have no other option? That because they find happiness and contentment with what little they have, they realize that it truly is enough. And you know what the secret to their contentment is? Gratitude. And I envy that. I envy their attitude of thankfulness. Of knowing that what they have is enough because in reality, they are truly blessed for even having that much.
I feel that if people were more grateful for things, we wouldn’t treat everything as disposable or replaceable and then we would appreciate things more and maybe even find more satisfaction and happiness with them. It’s sad that this is also happening with people. I’ve noticed that nowadays if you don’t satisfy someone’s needs, they will easily replace you with someone else who will. What happened to valuing things or people? Of recognizing their worth? Of appreciating what blessing they bring into your life? It’s a sad world we live in. But I want to change that if I can. Even if my words are only read by few, I’d like to hope that they would make a difference in someone’s life. I’d like to hope that maybe I could encourage someone else to live with an attitude of gratitude and cherish life more dearly as it should be.
Try this exercise:
Think of something or someone you take for granted every day, and then for a moment pretend that you’ve lost them or it.
Can you think of something? Your job? Your health? Your significant other? Your children? Your home? Your car? Something that is part of your daily life.
Now how do you feel if that item were to simply disappear tomorrow?
Would you feel lost? Afraid? Out of control? Sad? Hopeless? Empty?
How quickly life could change if one key part of our lives were taken away from us.
Now pretend you’ve regained that person or thing back into your life.
How do you feel now?
Overwhelmed with gratitude? Relieved? Happy? Blessed?
We can lose anything at any time and yet we don’t realize this fact because we go about our daily lives pretending that everything that we have now will always be there tomorrow. In reality, tomorrow is never guaranteed for any of us. So that is why we must be grateful now and not later.
How do we cultivate a practice of gratitude in our daily lives? It’s easy – awareness. Here I’ll help you. As you go about your day, become more aware of all that you have. From the moment you wake up to the moment you fall asleep, think about all of the things that you are blessed with, that make your life a little bit easier each day. Think of all the people who warm your heart and who bring love and light into your life. Recognize the source of your joy. Recognize that God is the one who blesses us with every good thing in our lives. Make the decision that you will not allow what you want or desire to rob you of what you already have. And remember to give praise to every blessing, to realize that it is a gift and not something that we deserve or are entitled to.
This is how we can cultivate a heart of gratitude. This is how we can bring more joy in our lives. This is how we can deepen our sense of happiness. When we begin to recognize all we truly have, we will then find out that we really do have enough, even plenty.
True wisdom is realizing all you have is this moment and not much else. So we must appreciate the present moment and who and what we have that makes our lives worthwhile.
The Self Love Challenge:
Challenge yourself. Confess all the places of ingratitude in your heart. Ask God for help to seek out gratitude and recognize your blessings. Become more aware yourself of all you have. And then after some time, look back and notice how happy you are now.