Gratitude

Roy Harris

By ROY W. HARRIS, PH.D.Roy Harris

Is your cup of life half empty or half full? 

I’m reminded of an old Church Hymn written by Johnson Oatman Jr. which was first published in 1897 titled Count Your Blessings. The hymn’s chorus describes a great way to look at life:

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

A great way to fill up the mind’s eye cup of life is to identify and express gratitude for the many blessings which have come our way.

What is Gratitude?

In a nutshell, gratitude occurs when we reflect on the good things we’ve been blessed with, are thankful for them and show appreciation to those who are responsible for bringing forth those blessings.

Why is Gratitude important?

We human beings tend to look at life with tunnel vision. We focus on the issues and situations in our lives that are most pressing. Isn’t it amazing how one situation or problem can dominate our lives, capture our thoughts and sometimes even harm our relationships? Reflecting, therefore, on the blessings in our lives, brings front and center all that is good and right in our lives. Reflecting on those good things can stir feelings of thankfulness and gratitude.

Reflecting on our blessings and being grateful for them helps lift our spirits and can overshadow those tough problems we may be facing.

Gratitude is also important because of what it does for others. Just as we are impacted by the love and generosity of others, others are impacted by our gratefulness or lack thereof. Recognizing those who are responsible for the good things in our life is the first step towards being thankful and expressing gratitude. Although some people do not like public recognition, most people like to know that what they do for others is appreciated.

What are some things to be Grateful for?

One great way to identify things which should demand our gratitude is simply to write them down or to carve out a time of day, each day, to reflect on the good things we have been blessed with.

What are some of those things?

Each person’s list will probably be a little different but there are some basic things we should be thankful for and express our gratitude.

• Health – if we are blessed with good health we should certainly not take that for granted and be grateful.

• Family – if we are blessed with family who love us and makes us feel loved and afford us a sense of belonging, we should be grateful.

• Friends – there are some friends who are even closer than family members. God created us with a sense of community and we need that interaction. If we have close friends, we are blessed and should be grateful.

• Basic Needs – if we have food to eat, a roof over our heads and clothing to cover our bodies we are truly blessed. Much of the people of third world countries do not have these basic necessities and we should be grateful.

• Living in America – living in this country with its guaranteed freedoms and opportunities to better ourselves is a great blessing and we should always be grateful.

• And Etc. – why have a category like this? Because there are a mulititude of things and people to be thankful for, and upon reflection you will find that your list may go on and on for pages. And with each item, your cup will become fuller.

How full is your cup?

Do you want your life cup to be half empty or half full? That decision is up to all of us individually. Why not consider doing what one verse in the above mentioned Count Your Blessings hymn suggests?

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Gratitude is an acknowledgement of all that we have been given and is the quality of being thankful and showing our appreciation. Focusing on the wonderful abundance in our lives will make the difficult days more bearable, the good days more joyful and engender a greater sense of generosity, cheerfulness and contentment in our lives.

Your life cup will become full and overflowing and your joy and happiness may not only impact you, but also the lives of many others.

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