At the risk of portraying myself as a complete and utterly shallow tool (yeah, that ship has probably already sailed… *sigh*), I’ll just go ahead and admit it, I often let the most ridiculous, meaningless things ruin my day. Someone cuts me off in traffic, my computer doesn’t work right, someone in customer service is rude to me, the line is insanely longer than it should be (why are all these idiots/sheeple standing in line? “For the same reason you are, honey,” says my infinitely more patient wife), Jason’s Deli stops giving away two kids meals with every purchase on kid’s night (hey, when you have four kids you gotta cut corners where you can, right?), the Vols lose a winnable game to Vanderbilt (Seriously? Two games in a row to VANDY??), some would-be writing critic criticizes me for writing ridiculously long, possibly even ‘run-on’ (gasp!) sentences, and a host of other admittedly negative but otherwise relatively meaningless events that should be mere blips on our radars of life all have the potential to get me down, to ruin my day, my week, my month (Heck, Tennessee football has been ruining my entire Fall for several years now).
In my meager defense, maybe the shallowness isn’t as deep as it could otherwise be, because, deep down, it does bother me when I let this happen, but often it’s after the event, after I’ve talked myself down off the proverbial ledge. During these times and others in our lives, when maybe we have a hard time putting things in perspective, it helps to cultivate a spirit of that attribute we’re about to celebrate over turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce (better have real cranberries or it might ruin my… OK STOP IT!)… thankfulness! So today, I’d like to share the various ways I remind myself to maintain a spirit of thankfulness. I have a feeling this is an attribute we all could use more of!
1.) Count your blessings – It’s not just an old hymn, it’s a mentality that fosters an attitude of gratitude. No matter where you are in life or how badly things are going, you have some blessings to count – so count them! Dwell on those, and you’ll be less likely to sink into the mental mire of your present troubles.
2.) Focus on the positive – It may be a trite phrase, but try to be a ‘glass half full’ kind of person. If there are any positives to take from a given situation (of course, sometimes there won’t be), try to focus on those and minimize the negative. One example for you fellow Tennessee Vol fans, after they lost to Missouri last year in agonizing, last minute, horribly coached fashion, I left the stadium comforted in the fact that this was probably Derek Dooley’s last straw and he would finally be gone. Hey, whatever works!
3.) Practice thankfulness, even if you’re not feeling it – If you’re in a restaurant and a server brings you something, say ‘thank you.’ If someone does something for you, thank them. Make it a regular practice to send warm thank you notes when appropriate. Let the people in your life, family, friends, co-workers, know how much and why you appreciate them. Even if you aren’t ‘feeling it’ at the time, deliberately and outwardly practicing thankfulness will provoke a positive reaction from those around you which will, in turn, build your own spirits.
4.) It could always be worse – Got a flat tire? Your engine could have been shot. Got a cold? You could have the flu, or worse. Having a hard time walking? You could be unable to walk at all. You get the picture… regardless of what happens to you in life, someone always has it worse, and your situation could always be worse than it is. Be THANKFUL it’s not.
5.) Remember that God is good, that He loves you, and made you in His image – This life is just a blip, a tiny vapor in light of eternity. Knowing God through His son Jesus, knowing we can spend eternity with Him, quickly and definitively puts the temporary, temporal troubles of this world into stark perspective.
Having a spirit of gratitude, of thankfulness, in our lives can go a long way toward helping us deal with the trials and tribulations that life constantly brings. So, while you gather ‘round that turkey table this Thursday and eat more than you can handle, remember to remember all the things you have to be thankful for!