The Art of Gratitude

Give Thanks

With Thanksgiving a few days away, we are bombarded with phrases such as “Be thankful” or “Have an attitude of gratitude” in our social media feeds, advertisements, and in home decor.  I recall numerous times when I was a child, my mother would tell me to be thankful for the food in front of me that I did not want to eat or for the undesired gift I had unwrapped from a relative.  Basically, “Be thankful” and “be grateful” became cliches to me that further annoyed me around the Thanksgiving holiday.

It was not until tragedy occurred when I was 18 years old that I had learned that gratitude/thankfulness was actually an art that must be mastered.  During the holiday season twelve years ago, shortly after one of my sisters was killed in an auto accident, I found myself severely down that she would not be around.  It was then in my most darkest moment that a small voice within said “Don’t focus on who you don’t have, but be thankful for who you still have.”  I still had my other three sisters and their families as well as my mother.  As a newly engaged girl, there was still my (then) fiancee and his family.  While it was normal and healthy for me to grieve at the time, shifting my focus away from my loss and expressing gratitude for who was still in my life was the key ingredient for me to move forward and keep me on the right track.  Otherwise I might have gone down a spiraling slope of self-destruction.

The truth is that it is easy to be grateful/thankful when everything is great. It is easy to be thankful for the car you purchased, the person you are about to marry, the degree that you had just earned. It is easy to be grateful for the high recognition you received at work or for the award you are presented with at an event.  But what about when you are feeling down and things are not going your way??

Since that moment in time where God placed in my heart to shift my focus away from my loss, he has also reminded me of that concept in many more moments in my life.  For example, when there are moments I do not want to be at work, I remember that because of that job, I am able to live comfortably and thank God for it.  I also understand that I am not there by mistake and trust him that I am there for a purpose.  Or when I wish I had a more stylish car, I thank God that the one I have is paid off and do not have to deal with car payments.  I can provide many more examples but the point is that this mindset has helped diminish pessimism, negativity, and (my old habit of) complaining, which in turn uplifts others around me as well.  Gratefulness/thankfulness has a very powerful chain-effect!

This opened my eyes to comprehend why we should give thanks to God in all circumstances.  Even in moments where I do not feel enthusiastic about expressing gratitude, God is always faithful and never lets me down.  I encourage you to make it a daily habit to express gratitude/thankfulness even when you don’t feel like it.  Or if something is upsetting you, focus on the good entities of it.  I assure you that slowly but surely, those mountains in your life will begin to move!

♥ Renée

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