Over 40 years ago, I was living in a basement apartment struggling to make ends meet. I was feeling really down and discouraged and stuck thinking about how bad I had it. But then, I started to think of the millions of people in the world who were worse off than me. I thought about all the people who don't always have enough to eat, or live in substandard housing, or otherwise struggle to have the basic necessities of life. I also thought of the many people who are blind, deaf, crippled, or otherwise handicapped.
I came to the realization that I was extremely blessed. I had a place to live, I was making ends meet, I had food to eat, and I could be much worse off. So I decided, then and there, that I was never going to feel sorry for myself about such things ever again. So, whenever I start to feel down, I've learned to look around and count my blessings. As I begin to thank God for all that I have, that sense that I am blessed returns and it's hard to stay down for very long.
This year, I have many things to be thankful for. I'm glad that I have a job despite all the problems happening in the world right now. I'm thankful I have the money to pay my bills, a home to live in, a wife and family, and all the freedoms I enjoy. I'm also grateful for the knowledge God has given me in natural healing because it allows me to continue to live a reasonably healthy life without having to use pharmaceutical medicines.
I believe a lot of the unhappiness people experience comes from continually focusing on what they lack, and not on what they have. When you are thankful and have gratitude, what you have becomes more and it invites more blessings into your life. So, if you are feeling unhappiness in your life, consider pausing to reflect on all the things you have and say a prayer of gratitude for each. And the next time you have the fortune to spend time with the people important in your life consider taking the time to thank them and tell them how thankful you are to have them.
I have a thankfulness exercise I like to do. I start off with the general statement, "Thank you God for everything you've given me." Then I start looking around getting specific. I thank God for my home, for hot and cold running water, for food to eat, for clothes to wear, for a car to drive, for the furniture in my home, for my eyes, my ears, my mind, for the knowledge I've received, for sunrises and sunsets.
Once I get started it's easy to keep going. But I don't stop with just the positive things, The scripture urges us to "give thanks in all things." (1 Thess 5:8) So, I thank God for the trials and tribulations I've suffered in life and the lessons I've learned from them. I thank him for the adversity in my life that has humbled me and has led me to rely on him.
I've found that giving gratitude in this manner isn't just a spiritual practice; it's also a healing therapy. If you practice gratitude and thankfulness it shifts your thought processes from the negative to the positive, which will activate your the immune system, help lift your mood, and help you overcome illness and other hard times in life. With all that's going on in the world, it's easy to get caught up in the negative, but if you practice gratitude for all that is good, you'll find that you'll feel blessed, even when times are difficult.
So, the next time you are feeling down and discouraged I hope you'll remember this message and give thanks, no matter how little you have.