Thankfulness: A Learning Process

Thursday, November 24, 2011 Posted by Debbie Legg

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“The greatest thing is to give thanks for everything.  He who has learned this knows what it means to live… He has penetrated the whole mystery of life: giving thanks for everything.”  Albert Schweitzer

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”  Philippians 4:11-13, NIV

Gratitude is not the most natural reaction to life, especially with the hard things, the painful things. How do we learn the secret of being content?  We must learn gratitude, and to learn it we must practice.

Some in my family, including me, seem to have a genetic predisposition to defeatist thinking.  In an effort to combat this, every night after he prays, my older son tells me five good things about his day.  Being the clever fellow that he is, he has also suckered me into telling him five good things about my day. 

I have been thrilled to see not only his change of attitude, but mine as well.  Concentrating on the good, naming it and speaking it out loud, is powerfully effective in reworking our negative thought patterns.  Many times we have come away from our time together thinking, “you know, today wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought.”  (It has also been a great conversation starter which, as anyone trying to communicate with a teenager knows, is never a bad thing.)

Deliberately looking for the silver lining, the hand of God, is bringing me closer to God.  Naming the blessings, noticing the miracles, good and “bad,” day after day, is leading us toward realizing contentment in any and every situation.  I am also learning about my son, which is a treasure beyond price.  For those things, I am most definitely grateful.

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