Posted by admin on 01 6th, 2010 | 3 responses

An Attitude of Gratitude

The end of the year is upon us.  And with the beginning of the new year comes the ritual of making New Years Resolutions.  How many here have made New Years Resolutions in the past?  And how many here have broken New Years Resolutions in the past?  No matter how hard we try, I think most people find themselves breaking New Years Resolutions.  Well, this year it is going to be different.  This year, I am going to make a New Years Resolution for you.  And, I am going to help you keep it.  Pretty good deal huh?

Well, first things first, what is our joint New Years Resolution going to be?  We are going to adopt an “Attitude of Gratitude.”  What does that mean?  We are going to learn to be more thankful people.  We are going to learn to thank God for the big and the small.  We are going to learn to thank God for the good and the bad.  We are going to learn to thank God for the significant and the insignificant.  We are going to learn to thank God in all things.

Not only that, but we are going to learn to thank God all day, every day…Sunday through Saturday.

And how are we going to do this?  Keep listening.  I am going to give you an assignment that each of us is going to fulfill over the next 30 days.  And if you do this…I guarantee you, you will develop an “Attitude of Gratitude” or your money back!

Thankfulness is a Choice

In adopting an Attitude of Gratitude, the first step is recognizing that thankfulness is a choice.  Remember, we are calling it an attitude of gratitude.  And your attitude is your choice.  It is dependant on the way you look at things…your perspective.  We decide how we want to react to a particular situation.  Do we look for the negative in the situation?  Or do we look for the positive?  We decide if we want to let the situation get the best of us, or if we want to make the best of the situation.  We decide if we want to be thankful or we want to complain.

We’ve been taught that gratitude is somehow dependent on how well things go for us.  But really our gratitude is determined by perspective.   It is really in how we see things. The apostle Paul wrote these words from prison (yes prison). “Rejoice in the Lord always,” he wrote, “and again I say it rejoice.”  Philippians 4:4.  Paul was happy despite being in prison and how, he learned to thank God in everything he did.  It was really his perspective on life.

A young woman wrote her mother from college:

“Dear Mom: Sorry I haven’t written sooner. My arm really has been broken. I broke it, and my left leg too, when I jumped from the second floor of my dormitory…when we had the fire. We were lucky. A young service station attendant saw the blaze and called the Fire Department. They were there in minutes. I was in the hospital for a few days. Paul, the service station attendant, came to see me every day. And because it was taking so long to get our dormitory liveable again, I moved in with him. He has been so nice. I must admit that I am pregnant. Paul and I plan to get married just as soon as he can get a divorce. I hope things are fine at home. I’m doing fine, and will write more when I get the chance. Love, Your daughter, Susie.

P.S. Mom, none of the above is true. But I did get a “C” in Sociology and flunked Chemistry. I just wanted you to receive this news in its “Proper Perspective!”

Happiness is really determined by our perspective in life not by circumstances.  

I once read the following incident:

“While walking along a busy street one day, I heard someone singing. His sweet voice was distinguishable even above the noise of the traffic. When I located him, I noticed that he had no legs and was pushing himself through the crowd in a wheelchair. Catching up with him, I said, ‘I want you to know, friend, that to hear singing from a person in your condition gives everyone else a lift.’ He answered with a grateful smile, ‘When I stopped looking at what I had lost and began concentrating on all I had left, I found much for which I could rejoice and be happy.’”

God’s will is that we choose to be thankful in all things.  I Thessalonians 5:18 says, “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  Now some may say, this is absurd.  If I hurt myself, am I supposed to thank God for the pain?  If I am sad, am I supposed to thank God for the sadness? 

Well, you can do this.  And I don’t think God would mind.  Remember my testimony of how I became Miss Teen of Washington?  At first everything was going wrong.  The pageant was a three day event and from the first minute, things seemed to go wrong.  First, the pageant was in a city 2 hours away from my home, and when my parents dropped me off, we realized that I had forgotten a packet of my paperwork that needed to be submitted.  Second, they didn’t give us any dinner that night.  Third, I just couldn’t sleep that night, I was too nervous, excited and scared.  Fourth, the pageant people were supposed to provide us with breakfast the next morning in our rooms, but they forgot our room somehow.  Then my personal interview, which was worth 25% of the final score did not go well.  It started off okay, then one of the judges asked me an emotional question about my disability, and I just broke.  I started crying, and I couldn’t stop myself.  I think it was a combination of not having eaten, not having slept and just being plain nervous.  Still, the interview went on and through my sobs, with tears rolling down my cheeks, I continued to answer questions.  I felt like such a nerd, and wanted to just get out of the interview room as soon as possible, but I stayed.  Just about the time that my crying started to subside, time was called, and I had to leave. 

I screwed that up.  I felt like such a baby.  The judges must have though that I was an insecure little baby.  What made things worse was that all of the other girls were waiting outside the interview room, so everyone knew I had been crying.

So, I went up to my room, changed my clothes and called my mom.  And she reminded me of what God had said: To thank him in all things even if they didn’t appear to be good.  So, a weak “thank you Jesus” proceeded from my lips.  I guess, I didn’t really mean it, but it was weird, it made me feel better.  And after I ate lunch and watched Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II Secret of the Ooze, I felt a lot better.  I was able to really just thank God, and just put it in his hands.  Anyway, I had never though that I could have won the pageant.  I just had wanted to be in the top eight.  Now at least, I could make the most of the opportunity and leave with some new friendships.

And in the end remember, I ended up winning the competition and getting the highest score in the interview portion, because Jesus changed the hearts of the judges.

But, I don’t think that thanking God for sorrow and pain exactly what God means.  Remember the Bible says “in” everything give thanks not “for” everything.  In every situation give thanks.  Have you heard the saying, “Every gray cloud has a silver lining”?  Meaning, there is something good in every situation.  I think God wants us to look for that “something good.”  He wants us to look for that silver lining…and then be thankful for that.

To better help you understand this, I want to read you a poem:

I am Thankful for………

….the taxes I pay
….because it means I’m employed.

….the clothes that fit a little too snug
….because it means I have enough to eat.

….my shadow who watches me work
….because it means I am out in the sunshine.

….a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning and
….gutters that need fixing
….because it means I have a home.

….the spot I find at the far end of the parking lot
….because it means I am capable of walking.

….my huge heating bill
….because it means I am warm.

….all the complaining I hear about our government
….because it means we have freedom of speech.

….the lady behind me in church who sings off key.
….because it means that I can hear.

….the piles of laundry and ironing
….because it means my loved ones are nearby.

….the alarm that goes off in the early morning hours
….because it means that I’m alive.

….weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day
….because it means I have been productive.

So remember, gratitude is a choice.  Choose to be thankful.

Everything Good is from God

The second step to developing an Attitude of Gratitude, is learning to recognize and appreciate that every good thing is from God.  In James 1:17, the Bible tells us:

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

Many times people do not want to recognize that anyone had anything to do with their blessings but themselves.  I studied hard so I did well on my exams.  I worked hard so I got the promotion.  I am a nice person so I have many friends.  I am lucky, so I won.  With this kind of attitude, we think we have no one to thank by ourselves.

But you know what?  There are many people who study hard who still fail their exams.  There are hard-workers who never get the promotion.  There are nice people who are lonely.  And there are plenty of lucky people who come in second place or never even finish the race.

We need to remember that without God, nothing is possible.  Perhaps this is because everything we have is God’s not ours.  Psalm 24:1-2 says:

1 The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein. 2 For He has founded it upon the seas, And established it upon the waters.

It is a privilege that God has loaned us everything we have.  1 Corinthians 4:7 reminds us:

And what do you have that you did not receive [from God]? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?

The story is told of a poor man who was given a loaf of bread. He thanked the baker, but the baker said, “Don’t thank me. Thank the miller who made the flour.” So he thanked the miller, but the miller said, “Don’t thank me. Thank the farmer who planted the wheat.”

So he thanked the farmer. But the farmer said, “Don’t thank me. Thank the Lord. He gave the sunshine and rain and fertility to the soil, and that’s why you have bread to eat.”

So, if we remember that everything is from God and everything belongs to God, it is easier to thank God in everything.

Thankfulness Benefits Me

The third step to developing an Attitude of Gratitude is realizing that being thankful is good for you.  It will lead to love, happiness, health and prosperity.  What more could a person ask for?

In today’s day and age, people are striving for happiness, love, health and prosperity.  Much of what we do is aimed at gaining these things.  “I just want to be happy.”  This is probably the number one desire people have.  And they will try all sorts of things to achieve a state of happiness.  They will risk their lives to climb Mount Everest just to feel a moment of joy.  Similarly, everyone wants to be loved.  It is a longing deep inside every person’s heart.  A desire to feel like someone cares…someone is there for them…someone can’t live without them.  And health, as we all know, is the latest trend.  People will diet, exercise, and run a marathon to be in shape.  Physical fitness is the new mantra.  And then there is prosperity.  People say, “Money can’t buy happiness, but it can sure buy just about everything else.”  And today’s generation likes to do a lot of buying.  

But you know what?  Research shows that there is one key to achieving all four of these goals: an Attitude of Gratitude.

First, we all know that we can’t be thankful and miserable at the same time.  When we begin to count our blessing and appreciate them, a feeling of contentment arises in our heart.  And contentment leads to peace.  And peace leads to happiness.  People who are thankful tend to focus on the positives, rather than the negatives.  As a result, they are happier.

But, more than that, I recently read several articles that stated that research shows that an attitude of gratefulness, or thanksgiving, results in not only a happier life, but a healthier one as well.  Studies show, “In addition to enhancing one’s general sense of well-being, those who engage in practicing gratitude report significantly greater happiness, optimism, and satisfaction with their lives, greater progress in attaining important life goals, higher frequency of feeling loved, and lower reported incidence of stress and depression compared to their counterparts tallying neutral or negative aspects.”  http://ccn.aacnjournals.org/cgi/content/full/29/6/12.  Furthermore, an attitude of gratitude has been found to result in faster healing, slower disease progression and less severe heart attacks.  Id.

Once we realize how beneficial a thankful spirit can be, we will be even more motivated to express an Attitude of Gratitude.

Stop Complaining

The fourth step to developing an Attitude of Gratitude is making a decision to stop complaining.  Complaining is the archenemy of thanksgiving. The two cannot co-exist in the same heart.

A wise man once said, “I used to think people complained because they had a lot of problems. But I have come to realize that they have problems because they complain. Complaining doesn’t change anything or make situations better. It amplifies frustration, spreads discontent and discord, and can invoke an invitation for the devil to cause havoc with our lives.” Complaining makes us miserable.  In Psalm 77:3 David said, “I complained and my spirit was overwhelmed.”

A lady known as an incurable grumbler constantly complained about everything. At last her preacher thought he had found something about which she would be happy, for her farm crop was the finest for miles around.

When he met her, he said with a beaming smile, “You must be very happy Mary. Everyone is saying how healthy your potatoes look this year.”

“True they’re pretty good, but what am I going to do when I need bad ones to feed the pigs.”

And so I challenge you to try to quit complaining for 30 days.  Just try it.  When you feel tempted to complain, instead of filing your complaint, file a praise.  It will change your life.  Philippians 2:13 says:

14 Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.

Make Thanksgiving a Habit

The final step in developibg an Attitude of Gratitude is making thanksgiving a habit.  People are creatures of habit.  We like repetition and that is how we learn.  Experts say that if you want to make something a habit, you need to do it 30-40 days in a row.  Then it will become a habit, something you just do without thinking about it.

So, to make thanksgiving a habit, I have a plan.  For the next 30 days each of us have to consciously decide to wake up in the morning and give thanks to God about at least one specific thing that He did for us the prior day or during the night.  Now, if I left it at that, probably most of us would maybe do this for a day or two, but then we would forget.  So, in an effort to ensure that we remember to give thanks every morning, I am going to give you an assignment.

First, find a partner who will do this exercise with you.  Every day, for the next 30 days, you have to do the following:

Think of something specific and different to thank God for.  For example, “Thank you Lord for helping me get an auto when I needed to go to XYZ place yesterday.”  It should not be vague like, “Thank you for my family” or “Thank you for good health”…you can use these once each over the course of the month, but not more than that.  And you should try to come up with something different every day.  Share whatever you are thankful for with your partner and have them share with you.

If we all do this for 30 days, we will develop the habit of starting the day, and hopefully the new year, with an Attitude of Gratitude!



3 Responses to “An Attitude of Gratitude”

  1. Prateek gahlawat says:

    I am deeply impressed by your thoughts…
    You have a very good propensity.

  2. Binny says:

    Thank you Lord for making me come to this page today when i was actually complaining of being down with severe cough&cold!!

    Thanks you God for making Sungeeta write this article and putting it here for it has helped me thank you for all the beautifull things and memories i have in life and thank you Lord for making me friends with Sungeeta, for she is an adorable and kind soul who has listened to me whining and helped me find peace many times.

    Thank you Lord for everything!!!:)
    Aamen

  3. Emily says:

    Thank you Lord for making me come to this page today when i was actually complaining of being down with severe cough&cold!!

    Thanks you God for making Sungeeta write this article and putting it here for it has helped me thank you for all the beautifull things and memories i have in life and thank you Lord for making me friends with Sungeeta, for she is an adorable and kind soul who has listened to me whining and helped me find peace many times.

    Thank you Lord for everything!!!:)
    Aamen

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.