I know the official thanksgiving holiday is over, but who says gratitude should be for only a moment? There’s a good reason why this article is written now and today, instead of earlier when everyone was officially nibbling on turkey and being thankful. I really wanted to have something to share, and from an authentic experience. So here it is.
I recently had an epiphany that led to the decision that gratitude is a choice, an internal force that is settled, irrespective of the external push against it…and it is a force that can help weather a rocky phase.
Genesis: I am currently walking out of a relationship drama, a very rocky experience that caused elevated emotions in both parties, fluctuations on decisions, and basically an exchange of words that…probably should not have been said or worded differently, or was motivated by the fickleness of sentiments.
During the worse aspects of this drama a lot of thought centered on if the relationship was worth it. To be honest, in the natural, the drama was enough to create a box, hide away in it, build a wall, push someone out, and relive every worse thing about the other person that could be imagined. But strangely something else happened in the middle of it, and got stronger at the tail end of it…the place I hope we currently are. What happened is Gratitude.
What I remembered
I remembered the good things about this person. I remembered the emotional support. I remembered the many times she picked up the phone to listen, and vice versa. I remembered the physical support, I remembered the kindness, the laughter, the places and experiences shared, and the number of times I believed – when it was easy to believe – that God brought this person into my life. I simply remembered the intrinsic value of this person – outside of anything – and then I was thankful.
Is life but a moment or a totality of little moments? This sense of thankfulness for the good moments made me appreciate the strength that can be gleaned to survive the bad moments. So, gratitude became that glimmer of hope or fortitude to see past where we are, to where we could go if we wanted to.
What does this have to do with you?
Maybe it’s not necessarily a relationship crisis, but all of us have something in our lives that are “issues.” We have moments that push our nervous system and emotions to the brink of negative. And as a human it is so easy to let that stage color everything else. It colors our thoughts, our sentiments, our words, and our actions. That’s the moment when hurtful things are said, when regretful actions are taken, and when our thoughts increasingly darken, until they rule over us. A serious stage indeed, it can led to depression, ill health, and a stronghold in the mind. That’s where gratitude and thankfulness can save us. That place of negative, or angst and despair, is the maze.
What does gratitude do?
It calls our attention to balance. The sign of adulthood is the constant discovery of balance. Nothing is ever completely bad or completely good (perfect) within humanity, and that’s ok. Balance is recognizing this, and hence, with empowered emotions, making decisions that weigh things justly.
It draws our minds to focus on what is healthy and true. And the truth is, there is a lot to be thankful for. If we all stop and really think about it, there is at least one thing in our lives we can be grateful for; the love of a child, the love of a friend, our health, our work, a meal we enjoyed, a hug from a stranger, a favorite movie that made us laugh. Sounds simple but focusing on that one thing might be the start to seeing more and more things to be grateful for, which slowly diminishes the thing we complain about.
It allows God to give us a bit more. Let’s reason together. Think about someone who was very grateful for something you did – could be a child, a spouse, a friend. What did you immediately feel like doing? Giving them even more. That’s the exhilarating effect of gratitude, even to God. If he gave you something, thank Him for that and treat it well. No, it doesn’t mean that thing will always be perfect, will never be messy, or will not call for you to tend it. Let me go gospel with you. God promised the children of Isreal the land of Canaan, but they had to fight for it, tend the grounds to enjoy its fruit after they arrived in it, as well as maintain the houses they later owned. NT: THE KEY HERE IS GOD GAVE IT TO YOU, NOT WHAT YOU PICKED UP IN LIFE AND NOW STRIVE TO BUILD FROM.
It fends of bitterness, and depression. Ever seen a bitter person? Do you notice how often they complain about almost everything? Do you notice a progression in their behavior the more they give into it? At first it is one thing, then later more is added, until finally nothing seems right in their lives. Bitterness begins to eat into them, affecting their relationships – for who can be attracted to that? Eventually, they complain about poor health, sleeplessness, anxieties, and more sad days than less. Depression lurks around the corner until that person becomes a shadow of themselves.
Gratitude will change what matters, and what matters is what’s going on inside of us. Now gratitude will not necessarily change your circumstances – a good lawyer might need to be called in some cases – but it will cause you to be whole inside, face changes without losing yourself, and help you walk through the crisis unbroken.
So how to get there?
It starts with a decision. Everything in life starts from a decision. A decision like, “I choose to focus on the positive.” Once that decision is made, your inner man will take over. That one thing you focus on as you start the journey to a life of gratitude will be taken as a seed by your inner man and placed into your emotions and nervous system. In time it will bare fruit. Time and patience. During that time SAY the positive and ACT towards the positive. In addition, the necessary actions to rest in gratitude will become clear. Those actions might be avoiding negative people, getting therapy for more healing, going out to coffee instead of staying isolated, or taking up a joyful hobby. Yet, it all starts from a decision.
Hope you enjoyed this and it spoke to you. So let’s all say, “Thank you.” Let’s all be kind to one another. And let’s return to contentment as we wake up and leave the maze by following the path of gratitude.
Let me know your thoughts.