In this issue ~~
As the year comes toward its end, it feels natural to take stock – to look at what we’ve accomplished, what we didn’t accomplish, what we’re satisfied and disappointed with. Most of us have a lot to be grateful for, and yet, our view often goes to what we didn’t get and what’s missing in our lives.
We live in the midst of abundance. Few of us ever go hungry or find ourselves without a roof over our heads. We live in relative safety. We’re wealthier than most people in the world, yet we often don’t take joy in what we have. Rather than appreciating our abundance, we live from a place of scarcity.
There’s a quotation that resides on my refrigerator:
I am being carried on great winds
In this past year, I’ve seen TV programs where orphans in Africa or refugees from Katrina received gifts of small, basic necessities and felt great joy and gratitude for them. When I see that and read my quote, I think, How dare I feel sorry for myself because I didn’t get a plasma TV this year! How dare I not be grateful for the safe, comfortable home I have! For the delicious, healthy food I eat every day! For the caring people I have in my life! For the opportunities to do work I love!
The media bombards us with constant images of the rich and famous. So many people aspire to be as young and thin as Brittany Spears, or as wealthy and successful as Oprah or Donald Trump. When they don’t reach those standards, they feel they’ve failed.
At the same time, we have the tragic images of the horrors in Iraq, Darfur, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and so many other places where people are fearing for life and limb on a daily basis. When we see those painful images, we can use them as a reminder to be grateful for all we have, instead of dwelling on what we don’t.
Then, take it a step further. Make a contribution or volunteer time with an organization that helps people less fortunate than you. There are many to choose from. Here are some:
It’s time for an attitude shift. We need to let go of our self-pity and our unreasonable standards and acknowledge how fortunate we really are. Take time every day to appreciate the many riches you have, and find opportunities to help those less fortunate than yourself.It’s a choice. You can focus on your blessings, or you can focus on your scarcity. And where you focus will determine the quality of your life. As the French novelist Colette said: “What a wonderful life I’ve had! I only wish I’d realized it sooner.”
Where in your life have you been experiencing scarcity? Is it in money? Time? Opportunities? What do you have in that area that you can be grateful for? For the next 7 days, begin and end the day by giving thanks for that. Then, create a vision, with joy, of the new things you’d like to bring into your life.
“Appreciation is the highest form of prayer, for it acknowledges the presence of good wherever you shine the light of your thankful thoughts.”
“For me, giving thanks is a sign of appreciation and gratitude that also brings about a deep sense of peace.”
“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”
(click on the book graphic to see a description at Amazon.com)
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