Be Grateful

Gratitude is the gateway to growth. Gratitude opens the doors to new opportunities. Being thankful is for more than just one day a year. In order to receive we have to have an awareness and appreciation for what we’ve been given. Too often we look at the shortfall in life instead of the windfall that all of us constantly receive from life.

Don’t think you’ve had a windfall of good fortune lately? What about your breath? Having you been breathing lately? Is your heart beating? Are you still conscious? There is so much that we take for granted. Unfortunately, it is not until we lose something that we notice how blessed we were before.

I broke my leg a couple of years ago falling from a ladder. I was extremely grateful that I didn’t break my back or neck or kill myself. But I really missed walking on my leg even though it would eventually heal. Just think of the many people that lose numerous limbs serving their country or in accidents all the time. Can you still have a life filled with gratitude even in the midst of loss?

That all depends on the choice you make. We are all familiar with the analogy of people who see the glass half full or the others who see the same glass as half empty. Same circumstances—different perception. Choosing gratitude opens the door to receive many other good things in life.

When I broke my leg, there were times when all I could do was worry and fret over that leg and wonder if I would ever walk normal again. At one point, I realized that regardless of the outcome I had to decide to be grateful that I was progressing as fast as I was able and let go of the rest. I also realized that there were many who faced these choices all the time, with much worse injuries, and went on to be happy, productive, joy-filled people.

Of course there are the people who are bitter and complain that life has been so unfair, but the ones who face loss and still continue to count their blessing in life are the ones that I want to remember. The soldiers coming back from the Iraq war are often times an amazing example of demonstrating gratitude. The young men have their whole lives ahead of them, some of them facing huge handicaps and yet their courage and grateful spirits are inspiring.

The Apostle Paul reminds us to keep our courage because we have not yet given our lives in our struggles. He has a point--you can’t receive that message if you’re dead! And if you’re dead, you probably don’t need any more encouragement! Where there’s life—there’s hope. In Philippians he reminds us to continually rejoice! In another place he says to give thanks always!

What is it about our nature that compels us to be grateful or become bitter? It seems that we have only two choices to make in this regard. Observing the results of gratitude in other people’s lives should inspire us to make the choice for gratitude. When we choose to be grateful we grow past our current problem. We surpass it and it ceases to have power in our lives any more.

We assign meaning to the events in our lives. If we believe something to be tragic and terrible and that it will destroy our lives, we become a self-fulfilling prophet. It doesn’t mean that tragedies don’t happen in this world, it means that our response to them will dictate whether or not we stay trapped in the emotional carnage of that tragedy or whether we transcend it. We can only transcend tragedies by embracing all that we are grateful for and reaching out to God for a deeper meaning for the events of our lives.

Gratitude has a healing, transcending quality to it. It is a balm that soothes over much of the pain in life. Apply it liberally to any difficulty in your life and see if things don’t feel better soon