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Learning to Be Thankful While Living in a Negative World
© 2012 by Stacy Lynn Harp, M.S.
Recently I was thinking about a friend of mine that I attended church with over a dozen years ago. His name was Dave and the reason I was thinking about him is because when I consider truly grateful and thankful people in my life, Dave was it.
In the eight years or so, that I went to church with him, I never heard him complain...once. What I did hear from Dave all of the time was words of thanks. Even now, as I write this, I can picture him in my mind just saying a big thank you, because he was truly thankful. I've never met another individual like Dave.
Which brings me to the point of today's entry, learning to be thankful in a negative world. I added the word "learning" to the title of this post because I believe with all of my heart that we have to LEARN thankfulness and learn how to be grateful.
How many of you parents out there ever had to teach your child to grab, yell, scream and to be selfish? Obviously, none of you because we're naturally born complainers and self-centered.
On the other hand, most of us had to be taught to say "thank you". In fact, after learning the words "mom" or "dad", usually the children learn "no", "please" and "thank you".
So, how do we learn to be thankful in a negative world? Here are a few things you may consider integrating into your life to combat all of the negativity around you.
1. Reduce the negative noise around you, like the 24/7 news channel you may enjoy watching. Turn it off and listen to some music without words. Music is great for calming the nerves and reducing stress. When you constantly watch news all you're doing is pouring negative acid like junk into your mind because the overwhelming majority of news programming is negative. If it bleeds, it leads. But if you watch it constantly, research has shown that you will be more stressed out and not as happy.
2. Get Rid of Negative Friends in Life and on Facebook
Many of us have Facebook friends who are nothing but energy draining negative nerds who do nothing but complain. My suggestion is delete those friends from your Facebook life because they are adding nothing of benefit to you. They are just another source of negativity, either complaining about the news they watch, politics or whatever else ails them. Get rid of them.
And as harsh as this may sound, get rid of those people in your life who are the same way, or at the very least, minimize your contact with them. When you are surrounded by negative nerds, you will find yourself becoming more negative. Likeness attracts likeness.
3. Start a Gratitude Journal and Write in it Every Day
It's one thing to start a gratitude journal and another to write in it daily. If you need help with what to focus on, Amazon.com has numerous options for gratitude journals. Check out the site and pick one.
You may begin your journal by filling in the blank. Today I am thankful for _________________.
Or you may want to just list 5 things that happened in your day that you are thankful for. For example:
I am thankful for living in a free nation where I have the right to vote, buy food anytime I would like and own property.
I am thankful for my vision.
I am thankful that I was educated and learned to read and write at a young age.
I am thankful for the clothes and shoes I have in abundance.
The things we can declare our thankfulness for are endless, if we shift our focus to the positive.
4. Give thanks to God your creator.
I realize this can be a controversial point for some people, but really it's a no brainer. One of the best ways to learn to be thankful is to realize that you wouldn't even exist and have the opportunity to be thankful if God didn't create you in the first place.
The bible reveals in Psalm 139: 13-18 some of the most powerful words ever recorded in history.
13 For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.
17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You.
When we consider the truth about how much God loves us and how much care He took in creating us, it is very hard to complain. Everything we are and everything we have comes from God. And the God of the bible is a relational God who loves us. He's not distant and far off. He's near to us and cares about every aspect of our lives.
5. Give thanks to others.
When was the last time you wrote someone a note to just say thank you for being a good friend? When was the last time you told someone who gave you a smile, thanks? You may be surprised at the reaction you receive when you do these things. We live in a world that focuses mostly on the negative and acts like a dog chewing his skin constantly.
Let's bring some joy and peace to our lives by being thankful for those who love us, to God who created us and loves us, and for all the good we have. It's there, all you have to do is look in the right place.