Continued from here.
I confess that thinking about topics that are excellent and praiseworthy is not my strength. I am a complainer and worrier by nature, so my default setting is not only to focus on what I don’t like but to actually obsess over it. I am never going to think about excellent and praiseworthy topics by accident. It must be a conscious choice to do right now because now is the only time I have.
The key to reaping a harvest of joy is planting the seeds of thanksgiving. Right now, in the moment – no matter what is going on in my life – I can choose to be thankful.
Because I am a natural complainer and worrier, my default setting is not thanksgiving. My natural state is ingratitude. I’ll have 99 obvious things to be thankful for, but I’ll obsess over the one thing that isn’t going my way. Ingratitude plants seeds of misery, bitterness, and despair. If you are feeling hopeless in your life, you are likely not spending your time focusing on gratitude.
No matter how badly your life is blowing up right now, you have something to be grateful for. Right now as I type this blog entry, I’m tired because I haven’t slept well in a week thanks to an eczema flare up affecting large parts of my skin, making me itch. My employer has initiated rounds of layoffs, and rumor has it that my position might be eliminated in a few weeks. My new dog is still learning his manners, and I have had to clean up more dog urine than I expected to have to deal with. If I allow myself (choose) to fixate on these problems, I’ll plant seeds of ingratitude that will reap a harvest of misery.
While all of those facts are true, it is equally true that I have much to be grateful for. God has healed my marriage, and recently my husband and I joyfully celebrated 25 years of marriage. I sense God calling me in a new career direction that I am excited about. My dog has made progress in learning not to jump on people and to respect house boundaries. I no longer have an eating disorder, am no longer 30 lbs. overweight, and have not felt the need to self-injure in years.
In this moment, I get to choose which to focus on – my problems or my blessings. My choice will determine how I feel. If I choose to focus on my blessings, then I will experience joy, even as I work through my problems.
[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace teaching her dog to beg. Courtesy Bitmoji.]