It is one of the many reasons I married my wife. She is an eternal optimist. No doubt it is because of her dad. Never in my life have I met someone so positive. To this day I am convinced he is the Father of Optimism!
One of the ways my wife and her father express their optimism, is through gratitude.
Think: grateful attitude.
I remember once asking God how else to pray for a specific concern. I sensed Him saying: “you could start thanking Me for all the things I have already done.” It caught my attention and made sense. Through exercising gratitude towards Him in my prayers, I felt more energy, greater perspective, and renewed hope.
The Bible says: “in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God.”
We sing that in a song, and preach it on Sunday morning, but in everything?
I think of several good friends who recently lost a spouse. How do they practice giving “thanks in everything” today?
In his book, Thanks! How The New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, Robert Emmons writes:
“…gratitude comes from a deep and abiding recognition that goodness exists even under the worst that life offers.” He continues by saying: “…the significance of gratitude lies in its ability…to enrich human life. Gratitude elevates, it energizes, it inspires, it transforms…Gratitude provides life with meaning by encapsulating life itself as a gift.”
I will be the first to admit that living a life of gratitude isn’t easy…
unless the practice of such has always been a part of who you are. It requires that we stop and reflect. We must look for and recognize the good that exists even when life is bad. It starts with recognizing that life itself is a gift.
From a health standpoint, my wife wrote in an earlier blog that brain research indicates thankfulness and appreciation have a strong effect on us. Gratitude decreases stress and floods the body with natural antidepressants.
As a counselor, I hear a lot of couples talk about being mad at each other. I know the feeling. I have been mad once or twice myself at Zerrin. Without minimizing the frustrations we face in marriage, we would all do much better at cultivating gratitude in our marriage rather than mad-itude!
It won’t always be easy. It will take a concerted effort. Change takes place over time.
This Thanksgiving, join me in a journey from now until the beginning of the New Year to cultivate gratitude in your home. Create a daily log where you record an answer to two simple questions:
- What is one thing you are thankful for in a spouse, family member, or friend today?
- What is one thing you are grateful for about life today?
Set a time of the day when you will be consistent to record your answers in a journal or a notepad on your smartphone.
Doing so takes you from the abstract to the concrete. You capture your thoughts and put them into words. You will have a record of your gratitude journey to look back on and send you forth into the New Year!
Question: Who will go forth with me to cultivate gratitude in your life? You can leave a comment by clicking here.