“Thanksgiving was never meant to be shut up in a single day.”
Robert Caspar Lintner
There are those who see life in two different ways: One counts the blessings while the other counts burdens. The person who counts their blessings tends to see the best in every situation, no matter how dire. On the other hand, the person who is grumpy will see the worst in every situation. When I say grumpy, I don’t mean a bad day or occasional times when you have a bad attitude, but grumpiness as a lifestyle. It’s one thing to be in a bad mood, but quite another when the bad mood becomes your only mood. A grumpy person is incapable of joy on any sustained level. Somewhere on the journey a grumpy day became a grumpy lifestyle and a decision was made to color the way they see the world.
Researchers have found that individuals who practice gratitude are happier, healthier, and more energetic. Grateful people tend to have fewer physical symptoms such as headaches and stomach aches – and that’s not to mention the psychological, emotional and spiritual effects.
Did I mention the word “practice”? Absolutely! Gratitude is more than a thankful mood, but a skill you must practice. It is practiced not only in good times (Thanksgiving), but especially in the bad. In dark times is where a grateful mindset really shines.
One way you can practice is by making a list of the things you are thankful for. Writing it down somehow solidifies your intention to view life in a grateful way. Gratitude has a way of disarming a complaining spirit as it refocuses your perspective. Tim Keller beautifully illustrates this idea: “You are worse off than you ever dared to imagine, but God loves you more than you ever dared to hope.”
Documenting your gratitude is important because the thing you focus on has the power to shape the way you see reality.
An experiment was done with the addictive game Tetris. College students played for hours. Long after they stopped playing, they continued to see triangle shapes in everything. Focusing on your failures, troubles, tragedies, mistakes, failed expectations, and what God hasn’t done is no different than playing Tetris and seeing only triangles.
One sign that a person is becoming more grateful is that they begin to see the world with a sense of wonder. They notice the brevity and sacredness of life contrasted against the pettiness of our complaints and the futility of defining ourselves by our pain.
So which person will you chose to become? Will you be like the man who wakes up with Lindberg cheese in his mustache and concludes that the whole world stinks? Or will you be that person who despite tragedies, bewilderment, and loss says, like Helen Keller, “All the world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming.”