Gratitude, the cure for a bad attitude.
As most of you know, I’m in my eighth decade here on this planet. I’ve made lots of trips around the sun on this spinning ball we call earth. And in my days, I’ve experienced good and bad, gain and loss, health and sickness, success and failure, and satisfaction and disappointment.
From time to time I’ve been known to remark to another “mature” adult, “By the time you learn how to live, it’s almost time to die.” Most times that remark is acknowledged with the knowing nod of the head and a smile. I’ve discovered that it is important to pay attention and think about life. If you pay close attention to what matters in life you can learn some important lessons.
I think I have learned a few things along the way that I could tell some younger folks, if they would listen. Some of us older folks would do well also to pay attention to the lesson I’m about to mention; it would make us more considerate and easier to be around. Here’s the life lesson I’m sharing today.
Gratitude is a product of wisdom.
We are born as selfish, self-centered little creatures whose only concern is about being fed and kept comfortable. Children are not wise enough to be truly grateful. They are not aware of the love and sacrifice it takes to understand why they should be grateful to those who take care of them.
Children learn gratitude as good parents and life experiences teach them that they are not the center of the universe. Thoughtful parents teach their children habits and ways to express thanks for the things they and others do to help and take care of them.
Some folks missed class the days the lessons on gratitude were taught.
It’s understandable how children might come across as ungrateful brats. But, when adults do that, it’s quite perplexing and irritating. It kind of reminds me of the selfish, inconsiderate birds I have living on my property.
Sometimes I think about the deeper meaning or spiritual application of common things and how they may apply to my relationship with God or others. I love birds. We have a beautiful backyard with lots of trees where they can nest, and we have three birdhouses we provide without rent. We have a creek and a birdbath where they can drink and bathe. We also have three feeders we keep supplied with feed. We have even bought expensive safflower seeds to discourage squirrels from eating their food. I have invented a contraption to stop squirrels from climbing the feeder pole.
One day I was sitting in my swing enjoying the gurgling of the creek beside me when it happened. After all I’ve done for these creatures, why would one of them even consider making me the target of their poop?
SPLAT! Right on the leg of my nice blue pants, the stain still reminds me of that unprovoked action. Why didn’t he come down and say, “I’m so sorry I did that. Forgive me. I’ll be more careful next times. And, by the way, thank you for taking such good care of me and my young family.” Well, birds don’t do that kind of thing because they are not mentally and spiritually equipped to do that. God didn’t make them in His image.
Are you getting an idea of where this is going? Now, you may not like to think about it this way, but do you think God may sometimes think we take His care for granted. Does our attitude of entitlement and presumption have a parallel to being pooped on by a bird? No, there is no parallel because birds have no soul and just do what they do naturally. When we act ungratefully or disobey God we are doing worse than pooping on Him. We are trashing the love and sacrifice of our Savior.
Wisdom teaches us to express gratitude every day. Every day goes better when I begin it with gratitude. “Thank you, Lord, for giving me a new day” is my prayer most mornings or sometimes during the day. Each day is a gift; it’s not earned or guaranteed. My life is in God’s hands, and that attitude helps me keep perspective on how very blessed I am. Reading Psalm 103 helps me remember this truth. How does that psalm begin? “Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of his benefits.”
Did you notice what the psalmist is doing? He is telling himself to give thanks to the Lord. After telling himself to be grateful, he goes on to list many ways in which the Lord has blessed him and those who follow him. I often need to follow this pattern at the beginning of the day and other times when I feel discouraged or confused, remind myself to give thanks and make a list of ways in which the Lord has been faithful throughout my life.
My faith is refreshed when I remember the many challenges I’ve faced in my younger days and how the Lord has always provided everything I have needed. Whatever challenges you may be facing today or in the near future, commit it to the Lord and give thanks for specific ways he has provided for you to this day. He is faithful and will do it again.
How can you cultivate gratitude?
The following material is from some helpful insights I gleaned from Psychology Today. I hope you will find them beneficial.
Gratitude starts with noticing the goodness in life. A materialistic culture that encourages constant wanting and sees possessions as the source of happiness is a poor soil for growing gratitude. Envy and especially cynicism and narcissism are similarly thieves of gratitude. In fact, the cultivation of gratitude may be at least a partial remedy for narcissism.
How do you practice gratitude?
Psychology Today suggests that writing a gratitude letter will help you and the person to whom you send it. Take time and write a letter, send an email or text to express appreciation for a kind deed someone has done for you. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/between-you-and-me/201809/you-should-express-gratitude-today-here-are-5-reasons-whyos
Tips to Foster Gratitude
- Keep a journal of or in some way note big and little joys of daily life.
- Write down “three good things”—identify three things that have gone well for you and identify the cause.
- Write thank-you notes to others.
- Think about people who have inspired you and what about them was most significant.
- Engage in “mental subtraction.” Imagine what your life would be like if some positive event had not occurred.
Check out my book HEAVEN’S CURRENCY for many reasons to live gratefully every day. It’s a great dose of good for only $12.95.https://www.cosdavis.com/product/heavens-currency-investing-in-the-things-that-matter-most