Gratitude is a matter of perspective

“We would worry less if we praised more. Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction.” ~ Harry Ironside
There is a story told of a Hungarian peasant who went to his rabbi to complain about his living conditions. He said, “I live in a small one room house with 9 other people. It is driving me crazy. I can’t take it anymore. What can I do?”
The rabbi looked at him a moment and said, “I would suggest you take your goat and bring him into the house too.” The man looked at his rabbi skeptically but went home and did as he was told.
The next week he came back looking even more distraught. He told the rabbi that things were even worse with the goat living with him. It smelled. It was just awful. The rabbi said, “OK, now take the goat back out side.”
The next week the man came back with a big smile on his face and told the rabbi that his living situation had improved so much now that the goat was gone and he only had to share the home with his 9 family members.
It is all a matter of perspective.

Finding gratitude in the midst of the storms

There is no question that the last 4 years have been very tough for many people. Many have lost jobs. Some who have found work find themselves in jobs that do not really reflect their skills, but they are just doing what they can. Inflation has hurt many. gratitudeInvesting has been a real roller coaster at times leading some to postpone or question retirement. I don’t in the least want to minimize the pain that any have suffered in the last few years. Hoping to help people see the light at the end of the tunnel of their finances is why I write this blog.
That said many times our difficulties are magnified because we are focused on ourselves and not those around us. Those of us living in the United States have so much to be thankful for even when our immediate circumstances may not be quite what we desire.
I heard some interesting statistics recently that really put this in perspective. There are currently about 7 billion people living in the world. But that’s a number that is hard to wrap our minds around. If, for example, you were to extrapolate that down to 100 people so you had an exact cross-section of that 7 billion:

  •  5 of the 100 are US Citizens
  • 24 of the 100 have no electricity
  • 33 have no safe drinking water
  • 63 have no adequate sanitation
  • 50 will go to bed hungry tonight
  • 23 have no shelter
  • 18 can’t read or write
  • 48 live on less than $2 a day

I don’t share those statistics to lay a guilt trip on anyone. It is simply a reminder that we are so blessed but so often we take our blessings for granted.

Our house isn’t quite what we’d like. If only it was bigger, or had more land, or was in a different neighborhood. . .  Yet many in the northeast whose homes were damaged by hurricane Sandy would happily trade places with us.

We complain if the service we receive at the restaurant is poor or if the food isn’t what we expect. . . Yet half the world will go to bed hungry tonight.

We complain it’s too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter, but nearly a quarter of the people in the world have no shelter to protect themselves from the elements.

I could go on but you get the idea. Gratitude really is a matter of focus and perspective. If we only look for the negative we will soon be depressed. If we choose to look for the positive we will have a different attitude.

We have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Gratitude comes when we take our focus off ourselves

When we focus on ourselves it is so easy to become depressed when things aren’t exactly as we want them to be.  In the book of Proverbs we read:

The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped. Proverbs 11:25 MSG
If you are struggling with gratitude this Thanksgiving, one of the most sure-fire cures is to find someone who is less fortunate than you and find a way to serve them. When we serve others it forces us to take our focus off our own struggles. The things that are stealing our contentment become forgotten for just a little while.

It is very hard to remain ungrateful while you are serving those less fortunate than you.

My challenge to you this Thanksgiving is:
  • Find someone who needs a hand and serve them. Preferably someone who has no way to pay you back.
  • Thank God for the blessings of a warm bed, a roof over your head, and food in your stomach. So many in our world don’t have that.
  • Be thankful for the blessings that money could never buy, the love of friends and family.
  • Most of all be grateful for the Savior who came to serve not to be served and performed the ultimate act of service in paying the penalty for our sins.
Those are things for which we can all be grateful.

My personal gratitude this Thanksgiving

As we focus on what we are thankful for this Thanksgiving, I want to take this opportunity to say I am very thankful for each one of you who regular read what I write here. Our days can be so busy with just keeping up with what life sends our way. Thank you for taking a few minutes to read what I have to say. I hope you have found it helpful.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?

Photo credit: rustiqueart (creative commons)

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.