Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Count Your Blessings

Okay, this first bit doesn't actually have anything to do with the topic at hand today, but I need to get that out there.  Wow, it has been more days than I anticipated since I have updated my blog.  Shame on me.  I made a commitment to myself when I wrote my last post that I would endeavor to write more often than I have been since school started back in August.  If I am to increase my readership, I have to, after all, give people something to read, right?  Makes sense to me.  Alas, life always seems to get in the way of creativity and thought, both of which I need time to do if I am to have something, hopefully thought-provoking, to write about.
 So bear with me as I try my darnedest to carve out more time to write so that you will have something to come here to read.

Now for the real post:

Every year, starting in November, we turn out thoughts toward thanksgiving.
I am not talking about Thanksgiving with a capital T, although our thoughts do turn toward that day and the overabundance of food and football we will inevitably indulge in, I am talking today about thanksgiving with a small T, after which the holiday was named - the act of giving thanks.  Why is it that we have to have a holiday to remind us to give thanks for our lives?

Undoubtedly, most of us are not ungrateful for our blessings, we know there is a lot to give thanks for.  Even in these financially uncertain times here in this country, we live much more blessed lives than a great number of others worldwide.  So, why don't we see it daily?  Have we become so blessed that we have become numb to the wonder of it all?  Perhaps that is it, but I think it is more that we get so busy living our blessed lives that we just don't take the time to stop and contemplate what our lives would be like absent of the good fortune we enjoy and we forget to be thankful.  What a pity, that.

I know that in my life when I am more purposeful in living my life with gratitude in mind, I find so much more to be grateful for than I do when I am simply going through the motions of life.  I want to live in the midst of thanksgiving more than for just one month, or one day a year.  I long to bound out of bed every day with thanksgiving the first thought on my mind and the first words out of my mouth.  Well, if that is my goal, then, as with everything we want to become good at, we have to practice.  Do the same thing, over and over again until it becomes second nature to us is what we have to do.  And that is what I will need to do with gratitude in order to get good at it.

I have thought of a couple of things I will do over the next month to practice living in gratitude.  First, I have looked up some scripture that I find meaningful and I believe will help focus my mind on the one whom I believe provided all of my blessings.  Among these verses are:  Psalm 100, Philippians 4, Psalm 136, 1 Thessalonians 5:17-19,.  I plan on not only reading these, and other scriptures, but also printing them out and posting them around my house.  On the bathroom mirror, on my nightstand, on my computer screen, on my car dashboard, etc.  This will help remind me to practice thanksgiving instead of feeling stressed and bogged down by the busyness of life.

In addition, I plan on spending time practicing quiet contemplation.  This might involve sitting in silence while I meditate on the greatness of life, or it might involve sitting quietly in my car, as I wait on my children to come out of school, as I listen to music that reminds me of the greatness of my God.  Either way, it will be dedicated time just for thinking good and grateful thoughts.  Not a time for making to-do lists, stressing about upcoming scheduled events, or personal conflicts.  Those things are not productive and they do nothing to move me toward a life of purposeful gratitude.

These are two things I am going to do differently and practice daily in order to reach my goal.  I may add to this list as I move along in the coming weeks, but I believe this is a good start.  This is not to say that all of my stresses and cares will be swept away on a magical pink cloud.  I know that life has its trials, but through those stresses, I will do my best to remind myself that I am not asked to be grateful for every situation, but to be grateful in ever situation.  This will allow me to put perspective on the problems and press on.

What about you?  Would you like to live a life of purposeful gratitude?  What suggestions do you have to that end?