I was thinking a lot for the things that I am grateful for when I looked at the things that others do not have. It is easy to become jealous of others blessings and totally miss the fact that what we currently have is more than what others have by a large percentage. This is all about changing our perspective on life to see things in a different light when we walk in that path of Humility. I would definitely recommend reading Tarisai’s post regarding the subject of Wisdom in Humility: Defining Real Humility to get some background on what it is so that you understand why it is needed to cultivate a heart of Gratitude. He uses a window-mirror analogy that speaks volumes of how we see ourselves when faced with a problem. Which side of the coin are we sitting on?
We have to explore having a heart filled with Gratitude for even the smallest of things but it is typically the smallest of things that make the largest difference.
Let’s start with something fundamental such as poverty. How many of us are actually grateful that we even have a roof over our heads? You are rich if you have a $1.00 bill or coin in your pocket because there are countries in this world that live below $1.00 by a large margin. In Bolivia, it was reported in 2009 that 30.3% of people live below the poverty line living with only USD$2.00/day or less. In Canada (2008) we have 9.4% of people that live below the poverty line; the USA has 15.1% in 2010; Trinidad and Tobago at 17% in 2007; the Gaza strip (2009) has 70% ; Liberia is 80% in the year 2000; Malawi at 53% in 2004; Mozambique at 70% in 2001; Nicaragua at 48% in 2005 and the list goes on. I think you get my point now.
We can look at different stats using UN reports and many other sources but what I’m driving at here is that we have a tendency to overlook the things we currently have and grumble at our neighbours for possessing the latest new gaget we don’t have or the new car that they just bought and forget that we truly have it better than most in this world. When will we get to that point where we stop with the mindless ingratitude and Thank GOD for what we have? We obviously have to shift our FOCUS.
My Grandparents always taught me that the two most important phrases you must learn in this life are Please and Thank You.
Gratitude is not just a word of thanks but it’s also an attitude.
It’s very easy to miss opportunities if we grumble and look jealously at our peers for what they have in comparision to what we have. This includes when we receive things from others; you may not always get the things that you want because you could be receiving things that you need and it is easy to despise the gift that is given if we are driven by desire rather than necessity. I am speaking yet again from experience in that I have seen people given priviledges that are not necessarily deserved and they abuse the gifts that they receive because of that heart of ingratitude. Why do people start to appreciate what they have once it is taken away from them? It’s because they failed to understand that a heart of gratitude is an attitude that appreciates everything and doesn’t take even the smallest of things for granted. People lose out on this principle in all walks of life.
Ask yourself when was the last time you said “Thank You“?
I believe saying “Thank You” should be a daily affair whether you’re Christian or not. You should practice just that small phrase each day if you want to cultivate a heart of Gratitude. Stop looking to the left and to the right and look at what is right in front of you. Shift your Focus off others and FOCUS on yourself. Many people miss this because they have a grumbling attitude that doesn’t see anything apart from what they “wished” they could have instead of looking at what they “already” have.
Thank God that I could live to see another day when the last second could have been somebody elses last breath in this life; Thank God I have a roof over my head while I reflect on others that have no shelter; Thank God I have a car even though there are those that don’t have one and are forced to walk many miles to get to work and back; Thank God I can afford to buy food while others don’t even know if what they have is their last meal; Thank God for every day, hour, minute, second and every moment that you have in this life because I know that for everything that is given, I know that even such things can be taken away so I Thank God for everything I have each day. You don’t have to be Christian to be thankful, you just have to be thankful period. Fill your cup with GRATITUDE and Don’t take life for Granted. Ask yourself, what have you filled in your cup…is it Jealousy or Gratitude????
Life is a priviledge, it is not a RIGHT. – OOooohhh I see wide eyes staring back at me with bewilderment. “How can you say that SHERLINE!!!!!!”
When you start to change your perspective on even the basic of things, you will learn what to be thankful for. Remember that you don’t have to be here on this earth right now, but something higher than yourself is allowing you to survive another day. For me it is God, for you…what could it be?
Do NOT be envious of others for what they have.
People can get so caught up with competing with their neighbour that they often breed an attitude of greed and lust(envy and want). You must also consider the ways in which people receive and obtain what they have. Does the person have what they have through honest means or deceitful means? Think about it. Would you like to be jealous of the rich man that happened to trick his clients out of their entire lifesavings in order to buy his Condo in Hawaii, or the man who murdered his brother because he wanted his wife, or the girl you stole a Coach brand bag from a presitgious store to look stylish? I know these examples seem extreme but if you knew how people obtained their possessions, would it change your heart of jealousy?
Also, I think that people shouldn’t be envious of those that prosper by honest means. You don’t know if that person will be the connection in your life that you will need to whom will have the means to help you in your time of trouble. If you treat people who are blessed or possess more than you with disdain, you in fact close the door of a future opportunity. Notice how I said YOU close the door. Ask yourself, how many doors have you closed because of your ungrateful and jealous attitude?
I also want to make something clear here…there is nothing wrong about yearning for something that someone else has but if that yearning turns into jealousy that’s where you’ve got to stop and seriously do some soul-searching and self-reflections regarding your desires. I spoke about differentiating between a want and a need in a different post which ties in to this whole concept of Gratitude. Having a heart of gratitude is an attitude that nutures an overall appreciation of the priviledges you have in this life. You must get away from thinking you deserve things all the time and start seeing things as priviledges more than a right. We should avoid hoarding even the things we do have because the purpose of having stuff is in order to enable us to give in the first place and to also produce more of what we have. It is more blessed to give than to recieve (Acts 20:35; Matthew 13:12).
Look at what Paul had to say to the Elders at Ephesus:
Acts 20: 32 – 35
32 “So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. 34 Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. 35 I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Emphasis added).
Having a heart of gratitude changes how we view what we have. We must view our possessions as gifts that enables us to help others that do not have what we possess. Also, don’t think only of just possessions, but think of the health that you have…someone else could be battling cancer and you aren’t…what will you do to comfort another? Also…do not laugh at others who are disadvantaged…..because if you do…you might end up in their position one day and therefore, you reverse the blessings in your life with that attitude and open up doors to disadvantages in your life. Be careful how you treat others and guard your tongue, guard your heart, and learn to be Thankful. Practice it everyday until it becomes a second-nature attitude and a permanent character.