An Attitude of Thankfulness

There is always a reason to be thankful.  Even in the most difficult of circumstances, you can find a reason for a thankful heart.

I’ve heard a phrase that says, “I complained because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.” No matter what your circumstances, I believe there is a reason to be thankful. Your situation may never change, but your attitude can change and that will make all the difference in the world.

A grateful heart sees each day as a gift. Thankful people focus less on what they lack and more on the privileges they have.  The grateful heart is like a magnet sweeping over the day, collecting reasons for gratitude. A zillion diamonds sparkle against the velvet of your sky every night. Thank you.            A miracle of muscles enables your eyes to read these words and your brain to process them. Thank you. Your lungs inhale and exhale eleven thousand liters of air every day. Your heart will beat about three billion times in your lifetime. Your brain is a veritable electric generator of power.

For the jam on our toast and the milk on our cereal. For the blanket that calms us and the joke that delights us and the warm sun that reminds us of God’s love. For the thousands of planes that did not crash today. For the men who didn’t cheat on their wives, and the wives who didn’t turn from their men, and the kids who, in spite of unspeakable pressure to dishonor their parents, decided not to do so. Thank you.

Gratitude gets us through the hard stuff.   Even though we may stuff ourselves at the dinner table, celebrating Thanksgiving can actually make us healthier judging by recent research. Studies have shown that being thankful improves our physical and emotional health. Holding on to feelings of thankfulness boosts our immune system and increases blood supply to our heart. Daily guided exercises or the habit of keeping a weekly gratitude journal can increase our alertness, enthusiasm, and energy, and improve our sleep. People who describe themselves as feeling grateful tend to suffer less stress and depression than the rest of the population.

I could tell you that people are thankful when they are happy, things are going well, and life is good.

But then I met people who seemingly unraveled a mystery:

  • The elderly woman in a nursing home who was in a great deal of pain. But you wouldn’t know it.  She couldn’t stop smiling and thanking me for the visit.
  • The middle-aged man who recently lost his job, his home and his family. Instead of bitterness, he was focused on thanking the people who offered him food and a place to stay.
  • The up-and-coming leader I hired who thanked me again and again for the job. Instead of an egotistical response, knowing his qualifications, he must have thanked me a dozen times for the opportunity.

As we think about gratitude, I think of the spirit inside these people.  I realized that I could not predict someone’s attitude based on circumstances.  I would meet someone who was wealthy beyond belief, but that person was miserable.  Someone else would win a major award and shrug off compliments, grumbling that it was not good enough.

Did thankfulness allow the woman to live longer?

Did the middle-aged man end up more successful based on his attitude?

Did the up-and-coming leader create success in his life because of his thankfulness?

Does gratitude help fuel success?  My opinion is that it does.  It seems to play a major role in happiness, health, and prosperity.  The order is more often gratitude first, then success and not success first, then gratitude.

 

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!