“Hey buddy how’s it going?” I asked Jose, one of the security guards at work. It was a bitterly cold and windy winter day. Yet there he was, pleasantly waving and smiling at drivers coming into work.
His reply was amazing and spoke to my heart. Jose simply replied: “On top of the world, buddy, just on top of the world.” Jose’s positive outlook in spite of the ugly outside conditions got me thinking about gratitude when our natural tendency can tend to lean toward negativity.
Unpleasant circumstances can derail us when we tend to focus on the negative rather than the good before us.
Is your glass half empty or half full?
Deep inside we all want to be more positive. We want to believe in the goodness of the human heart, but somehow it can go against our nature to be positive. Speaking and acting in a positive manner can at times be a struggle; I know it can be that way for me.
What gratitude is not
Paul spoke of the struggle that all us believers face: doing the things we don’t want to do, and not doing what we should do. (Romans 7:15) If you’ve ever made the statement “I hate it when I do that” you’re in good company.
Gratitude is not something that should be forced or contrived, it’s a characteristic of the heart that understands value, sees life as a gift and what we have as a blessing.
Gratitude is not feeling a sense of obligation toward someone who has been nice to us. We are either nice or not.
Gratitude is not simply a “thank you” and although thanking people is polite and honoring, it’s more than that. Giving someone chocolates, flowers or a gift to show gratitude can be another way of expressing gratitude. Yet gratitude is more than outward expressions or carefully crafted words, it’s a heart matter.
A challenge some of us have is our inability to access our hearts the way God intended us to. We can live like movie characters where people on an overpopulated planet are forced to be cold and unemotional, no physical contact, and everything is computerized and virtual. But this is not how God intended us to live. He created us in His image, gave us a body, breathed His spirit into us and we became alive. Emotions and heart expressions are part of who He is and who He has made us to be, hence we must learn to access our hearts and express real gratitude which includes both verbal and non-verbal communication. It actually goes much deeper than that.
Melody Beattie said: “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”
How can we live out this incredible truth?
- Gratitude is free, don’t expect anything in return; we must learn to be grateful with no hooks – not expecting to receive good just because we showed goodness. Give it freely.
- Don’t wait too long to express gratitude. We all live busy lives and easily forget and multitasking has not helped us. Gratitude must be expressed promptly and with sincerity, .
- Learn to access the heart by spending time with the Creator of the heart. Fellowship with God unlocks the complexity of our emotions and causes us to be more sensitive and expressive. Men in particular, let’s face it, we have self-imposed labels that may classify us as unemotional and dry. That is not God’s intended plan for men (or women). Practicing worship allows us to exercise abandonment and sensitivity which includes gratitude to the many blessings of God in our lives.
- Perspective changes the way we look at the world around us. It’s the glass half-empty vs. half-full. Happiness does not generate gratitude, but heartfelt gratitude will generate real happiness and joy. In fact gratitude will change the way we look at and process the world around us.
- Gratitude should not come ONLY when the desired outcome is achieved. When we don’t receive the outcome we desire, we should exercise gratitude nonetheless. It’s another way to put to death our selfish human nature.
- Gratitude is a relationship builder and improves existing relationships and can repair stressed ones.
- Gratitude is attractive on a person.
- Gratitude has been linked to lower stress levels, better sleep and improving overall health. Hard to argue with someone who has been transformed by gratitude.
- Gratitude lets people know their kindness was noted. Jesus put it this way: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31)
- Gratitude needs to be practiced and not just theorized. Theorizing truth is only half the equation. We must practice what we preach.
Being a grateful person looks and sounds good on us. Gratitude lifts the countenance and people tend to gravitate toward thankful people.
We are creatures of habit, because even after hearing Jose’s impactful statement, all I did that day was complain about the cold weather. We have so much to be thankful for, yet focus on things that we cannot even change…like the cold weather.
So there you have it, I haven’t arrived yet, so cut me some slack, and you haven’t either. Do you struggle the same way I do with complaining or not expressing gratitude enough? There is hope for all. May these words sink into our hearts as God’s transforming power turns us into people of gratitude.
Davide has a unique communication style that has given him a platform in the marketplace to use his “get the job done” skill set.God has instilled in Davide a passion to equip the body of Christ through teaching, mentoring and speaking life through experience and wisdom of years.He is deeply passionate about pursuing and cultivating the presence of God. He currently lives with his wife of 31 years, Lois in Charlotte, NC. They have 3 amazing children with their married spouses.