Friday, May 20, 2011

Gratitude: The Key to Happiness

I was, at one time in my life, a very unhappy person. I thought I was unhappy because I didn't have "enough". I didn't have enough time, or enough money, or enough possessions. Then, I attended a silent retreat during which God rebuked me. He showed me that my unhappiness was caused by my ingratitude. I did not value the gifts I had been given, always seeing them as lesser than the gifts that others had been given. My statement - I don't have enough - was essentially an accusation that God hadn't provided me with enough, a way of dodging responsibility for not taking proper care of the gifts He gave me. I was careless with my time, my money, and my possessions.

God told me that gratitude is the key to unlocking the treasury of His graces. See everything in your life as a gift from Him. When you wake up in the morning, it is a gift that you have been granted one more day to fix the mistakes you made yesterday and draw closer to Him. When you have breakfast, it is a gift from Him that you have food to eat that day. When you head out the door to work, that job is a gift from Him. He created the person who founded the business and all of the people who work for that person. He created the materials that allowed the business to be built. It is He who called your attention to that particular job and He who influenced the person who hired you. Yes, your work at school and choices in life have gotten you where you are - but He created the teachers who taught you, created the people who supported you and enabled you to make those choices. You have done nothing without His help. Even the air you breathe is a gift from Him. Try going 1 minute without that gift and it will give you a new appreciation for it.

That retreat changed my outlook on life. I realized that I was just as gifted, just as loved, as everyone else around me. The only difference is what I chose to do with those gifts, and whether I saw them as gifts at all. I have gotten in the habit since then of practicing gratitude. Whatever situation comes my way, whatever the circumstances of the day, I take the time to thank God for it all. I was unhappy then, I am much happier now, and when I'm not happy it's usually a sign that I've forgotten to practice gratitude that day. Like many things, gratitude is a cultivated habit, a lifestyle that takes practice. However, I guarantee if you begin practicing gratitude today it will change your life and your attitude forever.

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