The last couple of years I've seen what appears (to me at least) to be a new trend of replacing new year's resolutions with a “word of the year”–a word that creates a focus for the year. I don't go out of my way to look for one, but rather suddenly in the week between Christmas and New Year's Day I felt like a word had been given to me for 2014.
That word is gratitude. But I haven't really told anybody or talked about it. Yet in the last few days I've had more than one reminder to be grateful. At one point when I was struggling with sadness and frustration, a friend reminded me to not focus on the things I lack, but to instead be grateful for the blessings I do have. At the end of his text message he said this:
“Then, just focus on all the good you have in your life. Be grateful for all your blessings. . . . If you want more then that's ok. However, one doesn't usually get more until they accept and appreciate what they already have.”
This was a profound and much needed reminder at just that time.
Then as I was scrolling through my Twitter feed Sunday morning, I came across a tweet with this question:
“What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?”
I couldn't help wondering what would be left in my life. What did I thank God for yesterday?
My inclination is to look at what's missing in my life. Not so much in terms of material things, because I'm well aware that I'm blessed. My focus tends to be on the intangibles, including what I lack in terms of character, what I need to improve in my mind and behavior, what perhaps I feel I'm missing in terms of friends and free time. I have to be reminded constantly to be thankful for what I have. To look for something to be grateful for in every circumstance and situation. I tend to see how far I have to go and forget how far I've come.
A few years ago when I was in that frame of mind a friend assigned me the “homework” of starting a list of things I'm grateful for, and look at it every day for a month. The exercise changed my attitude and my life. I still have that list. I don't look at it every day, but from time to time, especially if I'm feeling down, I pull it out, read it over, and add to it.
No matter the situation, there is always something to be grateful for. As Abraham Lincoln supposedly once said, “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”
This year I am on a quest to look for the roses, even when I'm feeling the thorns.
Your turn: If you woke up this morning with only what you'd thanked God for yesterday, what would you have left? Does that question change your thinking about what to thank God for today? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. And if you have any secrets for remembering to be grateful no matter what, I'd sure love to hear them.
Best wishes to you in the coming year. Let's keep in touch.