Thursday, November 23, 2017

On Gratitude

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Gratitude is a deconstructed element of faith. Some of the happiest people that you will ever meet have a profound and and deep faith in some form of God. I don't mean the people who wave the Bible around and tell you why you're a sinner. I mean those people who just seem very serine all the time no matter what is happening; as if they have read the last page of the novel and they know how all of this will turn out.

A life of Gratitude is a key part of this serenity. Anytime something happens in your life, your emotional reaction to it is only loosely connected to how good or bad it is in reality. If you get a promotion and a raise at work, you can see it as a very exciting thing or you can see it as a whole lot of extra work with only a little more money. If you lose your job, you can see it as a disaster or you can see it as an opportunity to find something better.

Gratitude is crucial to being able to control the difference for yourself. Being grateful is not just something that "good people" do because they should. Gratefulness is something that you do because it is good for you.

I mention faith because most people have encountered faithful people who give thanks to God no matter what happens. If they are starving in the woods, and have nothing left but a handful of trail mix, they will give thanks to God for that trail mix. What would most of us do? Probably be upset that we're out of food and about to starve.

But think about the difference this could have in your life. How many blessings do you have every day that you don't even think about.
  • If you are reading this, you are blessed to have access to the Internet, giving you access to all the assembled knowledge of mankind. 
  • You either have your eyesight, or some other method to read. 
  • If you live in America or another developed country, you live in relative security with a level of technology that was science fiction just 20 years ago. 
  • If you are able to work then you have health that allows you to do so.
But what about when bad things happen. How can you be thankful for that. Let's say you lose your job. It is reasonable to be angry or anxious, but the anger and anxiety will pass more quickly if you can get to a place of gratitude. What might you have to be grateful for?
  • You are now free to find a new and better opportunity.
  • You gained certain skills and experiences which are now yours to capitalize on.
  • You may have friends and connections through the last job.
Many of us go through our lives in fear and anger. Upset about this and worried about that, but what if, instead of looking at everything that might go wrong or has gone wrong, we look at what has gone right? Think about how that would change your average day. 

Think about the posts you make on social media. Are they negative or positive. What if you made just one more every day that expressed gratitude for something? What if you made an effort to thank someone every day for something they had done in your life? Imagine the difference this slight change might make.

I write this article aspirationally. I often find myself focusing on what I have lost rather than what I have, and it does not bring joy. Perhaps, starting today, we can start down this road of gratitude together. I can start by thanking you for reading this article.