Thankfulness is subjective, I am guessing we all would agree. How we feel, show, and verbalize our gratitude comes in many different forms.
Thankfulness, gratitude, and gratefulness: three words to describe a characteristic, a personality trait, and a way of living.
People who live with an attitude of gratitude are known to live longer, sleep better, and have increased productivity and happier lives.
Most of my life, I felt that people were thankful when they are happy, things are going well, and life was what they considered to be good. When things were not up to their expectations, I assumed people were sad, disappointed, and angry.
I did not experience a negative childhood, nor did I face any horrific circumstances or events. My parents adored each other, and I was raised with high morals and values, and in a sound Christian based environment.
I thought I knew what thankfulness was for years. Why wouldn’t I be thankful? I had a safe loving family, a college degree, followed most rules, lots of friends, great parents, hot boyfriend, good job, a Christian, and no real “issues”.
I married a man I loved (over 30 years ago), our precious son was born on our first anniversary, and I was excited to be giving birth to a much-wanted baby girl in a matter of months.
I was thankful. I was an adult and ready to live my happily ever after life! Life was going my way, and the way my parents had portrayed to me and my sister.
I since have learned thankfulness and gratitude are tested with real life events and situations we find ourselves in. The events we don’t want, plan, have time for, or feel we deserve.
My life has been turned upside down at the most inopportune times during my adult years.
A husband leaving while we had an infant and I was expecting our second child. A grueling long-standing divorce. Nasopharynx cancer and treatment in my late 20’s. Breast cancer, mastectomy, reconstructive surgery, and naturopathic cancer treatment 6-years ago.
All life events where I found myself questioning what I could possibly be thankful for.
After these storms had passed and I understood the lessons, strength, compassion, and understanding of God’s bigger plan for me.
Gratitude is the spirit that lives inside you. Something impossible to describe until you realize it consumes every inch of your body. It is your connection to understanding who you are and what your purpose is on this earth. It is knowing the trails and tribulations you have lived through were carefully designed so you experience true thankfulness daily.
What I have personally learned about gratitude:
- Continuously be thankful for the lessons you have learned through the tough and rough times, especially after the storm has passed.
- Recognize the small things and be thankful. Be thankful for having the opportunity to witness life. A smile on a child’s face, a beautiful flower, a great parking place, or a walk in the park.
- Express yourself in the things you appreciate. People who radiate thankfulness are contagious and remind others to be thankful. Be thankful for the people in your life that may only be in your life for a few short minutes.
- Make your junk your message. Use your negative experiences to assist others when they too are dealing with difficult times in their lives. Being able to minister or offer your experiences can offer hope and understanding.
- Choose to be grateful! Make a conservative effort to be thankful! Gratitude is a choice and a way of life. Negativity becomes a habit. Playing the victim is irritating to others. Most people don’t want to hear about your hard luck, bad times, or what someone did to you.
- Acknowledge by praying when you are thankful. Many times, we will pray and beg God for the things we want or want to stop. When the storm subsides, we forget to acknowledge our thankfulness.
- Trust the journey no matter how hard or difficult it gets. Don’t give up. Be mad, sad, or whatever you feel but know there is a plan that has already been carefully devised and planned out for you. Know God trusts you to withstand more than you think is possible and you will become stronger, wiser, more trusting, and understand life much better than you ever dreamed imaginable.
Thankfulness is a choice, grounded on trust.