You have a lot to be thankful for. You may not see it but you do. Being thankful though doesn’t necessarily come naturally. Being thankful is, in fact, a choice. It is an active, deliberate choice that one has made in order to think about the things that he / she has rather than the things that they don’t have. When you are thankful for what you have it releases a joy, a happiness within you, that others can see, and it allows you to be generous to others, no matter whether you have a lot or a little.
I used to struggle with having no gratitude or thankfulness. I’m not perfect, I had a hard life and so I struggled big time with this concept. So I know others will, have and do as well.
When you hear the word ‘Gratitude’ or ‘Thankfulness’ what does your brain start thinking because those first thoughts are good indicators of whether or not you have a heart of thankfulness. Do you think ‘I’m so thankful for…’ or are your thoughts more like ‘Are you serious? What do I have to be thankful for?’
Does your thoughts go to the problems in your life. How can I be thankful I have no money, no food, no home and/or no work. Or do your thoughts go deeper – how can I be thankful my life was terrible, I was abused, I’m in a Domestic Violence situation, or perhaps, I was or am being bullied.
The problem with this line of thinking is that soon the ‘What if’s’ and the ‘If only’s’ scenarios start to play out. We can find a whole lot of reasons to not be happy and to not be thankful. I know I’ve been there, I have the scars to prove it, and my life could dictate to me how I should be ungrateful, because of the trauma I’ve been through, but at the end of the day it comes down to a choice.
We can spend our life complaining about what we don’t have, and living in our own torment, sorrow, anger and jealousy, at those that have what we want or think we want, or we can change our mindset and be thankful for that which we have, which can then potentially open a door for more good to come through.
Being thankful, having a heart of gratitude produces joy – a happiness that others can see and for those who know your circumstances, it confuses them to the point that they want that happiness too – because they will be thinking when they watch you ‘How can he/she be so happy when…. has happened?’
But it’s not easy especially if you have scripts from the past that play on a constant reel in your head. It’s hard to silence that voice. I know how hard it is to be happy when you have nothing. I’ve been there; I’ve been so broke I’ve been homeless, days when not eaten because I chose to pay a bill over getting food. It’s not easy when everything you see says you’re not good enough, nothing you do will work out but that’s where you have to find strength from somewhere to push through and tell yourself that you are better than circumstances say.
I’d love to have the bravado and creativity of Sir Richard Branson. To look at him you wouldn’t know that he was an introvert, that he trained himself to be an extrovert. I’m an introvert, I’m not a people person naturally but I force myself to pretend that I like people, I engage with people and I make them laugh and can have a great conversation. I’ve been told by people that they I encourage them and they wish that they were as confident as me and when I tell them that its an act, that I’m not that confident, they say that they would never have known. But I would like some of Sir Richard Branson’s creativity to get around problems.
I’d love to have just a fraction of the capital that the rich people do, like Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and how about Oprah. I’d love to have enough so that I could pay my bills on time, to not have to worry about whether or not I can eat this week or to have plenty so that I can buy a coat because Winter is coming. But I wouldn’t like my life to be on display like there’s is for all the world to see and love you one minute and hate you the next. And coming from a Domestic Violence background I definitely can’t afford to have my picture splashed across the tabloids. But it’s nice to dream occasionally.
Changing your mindset though is going to take time. For some it will take a long time, for others a shorter amount of time, for others who really struggle they rely on God to help them change but it is making the decision that you want to change that is the first step to change.
I was challenged several years back. I felt it was God challenging me to look at changing my attitude from ingratitude to a more thankful attitude. I felt Him challenge me to write down one thing that I was thankful every day for a month. I was okay with that. Not a problem. But then came the criteria.
It wasn’t allowed to be the same thing every day. Okay, that makes it more challenging but yep, I can do that and then the final criteria. It wasn’t allowed to be shallow, I had to say why I was thankful. So I committed myself to this challenge and got a journal and spent the next month writing down something I was thankful and why each day.
A couple of my entries were:
I’m thankful for those coupons I get. The 4 cents of fuel voucher, the buy 4 coffees and the 5th one is free, spend $5 at the bakery and get stamp, on the 6th trip I got free loaf or 6 rolls, or the buy two for one. Why? Because I saved money which could be spent on something else and interestingly enough the free coffee and the free bread was usually when I didn’t have any money left.
I’m thankful that I don’t live in a country that is riddled with war. Why? I live in a country that gives me freedom. Freedom to wear what I like, to have an opinion even if it’s different to someone else’s, I can go to uni, I can live where I choose to live. I’ve got a lot to be thankful for living here.
I’m thankful that I woke up this morning and there wasn’t a chalk line around my body. Why? It gives me an opportunity to say hello to someone, to encourage them, to show them that someone thinks that they’re important.
Being thankful is a choice. It releases joy and happiness and a desire to share what you have whether that be a little or a lot. Being thankful becomes a lifestyle.