“Thou hast given so much to me,
give one thing more, –a grateful heart,
not thankful when it pleaseth me
as if Thy blessings had spare days,
but such a heart whose pulse may be Thy praise.”
— George Herbert
“He who thanks but with the lips,
thanks but in part;
the full, the true Thanksgiving,
comes from the heart.”
— J. A. Shedd
“As we express our gratitude,
we must never forget
that the highest appreciation
is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
— John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Becoming a grateful person requires practice, and it also requires letting go of anger, disappointment, complaining, and the like; however, I need not make a complete and immediate turnaround, as it is just fine with the little-at-a-time method of accomplishment.
As I’ve found in my life, the more that I am grateful, the less I find to be unhappy about. It is an accumulating process that overshadows, or rather, weeds out the need or desire to complain or be angry or unhappy. Even as some of those seemingly negative things pop up from time to time, they are so easily dealt with by finding what in them there is to learn from them and to be grateful for.
At first, it may seem strange that something that is making me angry or upset could have something in it that there is to be thankful for, but I have learned that it is in there somewhere.
As I widen my field to see a bigger picture of something I’ve tuned into that is upsetting to me on the surface, I cannot help but find something or even many things to be thankful for. The cause for anger or concern then becomes a source of celebration instead of a pity party. I really think that this was what Paul in the Bible was referring to when he said to be thankful for all things.
All experiences can be experienced as for the good of us or another if we only look at them with new eyes and learn to respond instead of reacting. It is the small picture; that is, focusing on the thing that is distressing to me, that keeps me upset. Heck, I may even find that by widening my field of vision that we can see myself in a previous time causing the same stress on someone else. A little patience goes a long way here.
My mother told us when we were very young to count to ten before responding when something makes you mad. Not bad advice, really, but even better, is to look for the benefit in all events, and then it becomes much easier to be thankful for all things. Once I start looking at every situation as a way to learn and grow regardless of how it causes me to feel at the moment, progress is imminent. I now absolutely believe there is a reward for me in every event or situation. As I change my judgments from seeing good and bad to seeing good and gooder, I find the joy that I really wanted all along.