When I think back over my education in the public school system and state university, I do not recall any courses that ever touched on the subject of cultivating gratitude. Even in psychology and religion classes, which you would think would be most apt to address the issue, nothing was mentioned about the benefits of being grateful. Yet, it is one of the most important skills a person can develop.
While gratefulness tends to be thought of as a feeling, I consider it more of a learned art. If I only practice gratefulness when my present circumstances are the way I want them to be, then I am going to spend most of my days wishing things were different and feeling sorry for myself. Yet, if I choose to express gratitude in the midst of whatever circumstances I find myself in, then I am going to experience harmony and joy within myself and within the world.
There are always going to people who have it better than you and worse than you, so comparisons are never the key to gratefulness. The key is to realize we came into this world with nothing and everything we have is because God has provided it for us out of his unrelenting love. That is vastly different than focusing on what we don’t have.
Gratefulness is considered the noblest of virtues and is the key to a joyful life because it is not dependent on anything going on in the world. Therefore, everyone has the opportunity to lead a joyful life regardless of their circumstances. However, practicing gratefulness at all times doesn’t come naturally to most. Instead, it must be a very deliberate choice.
To be honest, I never really thought about investing myself in this discipline until I was gifted with a Gratitude Journal. I won it merely by chance. Yet, it’s arrival at that particular time in my life was definitely providential. It ended up serving as a lifeline to me in the midst of some extremely painful and tumultuous circumstances. It was there – in the stinky, messy, trenches of life – that I learned the vital importance of cultivating gratitude.
Give thanks in all circumstances. – 1 Thessalonians 5:18