I sometimes wonder if we tend to look at our blessings through the wrong end of binoculars and to look at our problems through a magnifying glass. It should probably be just the opposite.
In a recent interview, Stephen Colbert said, “It would be ungrateful not to take everything with gratitude. It doesn’t mean you want it. I can hold both of those ideas in my head.”
He was referring to circumstances in life that don’t go as expected but for which he feels we should still be grateful. He learned to adopt this gratefulness attitude from both his mother and his faith. This is particularly extraordinary when you consider that Colbert’s father and two brothers were killed in a plane crash when he was ten. He was not suggesting that he was grateful for the tragedy but that he approaches all aspects of life with an overall attitude of gratitude.
Today, as I reflected on this concept, I decided to list the things for which I’m grateful and share that list with you. Hopefully, it will encourage you to see similarly positive aspects of your own life.
I’m grateful that….
I woke up this morning. Life works out much better when you wake up. If you don’t wake up at all, it can be unsettling.
I woke up next to my best friend. Marriage can be a challenge sometimes but when you marry your best friend, it’s much easier. And remembering that she is my best friend keeps me focused on why I married her in the first place.
I awoke in a comfortable bed in a comfortable house. Having a comfortable shelter is an amazing gift that should never be taken for granted. I’m protected from the elements and can rest safely at night — even though I still can’t figure out how those stink bugs keep getting in.
I drank a strong, hot cup of coffee. We can easily take little pleasures for granted. But a well-brewed cup of coffee is an amazing pleasure that many people may not have the opportunity to enjoy. I relish every sip. And I enjoy the caffeination-ness that comes with it as well.
I can enjoy my house and the furnishings that provide comfort. A nice chair, a bright light, a desk, and a thick rug that feels good on my bare feet all make my life more comfortable. I do not take these lightly, or heavily for that matter.
I ate breakfast and my stomach was full afterwards. I see many hungry people as I travel across the country and I know how blessed I am to eat every day.
I took a hot shower. While, as a country boy, I don’t feel the need to shower every day, my wife prefers that I do. But isn’t it amazing that a simple turn of the knob results in warm soothing water all over my body? The bone-chilling shock of a cold shower is all I need to remind me of this gratitude.
I got dressed and had clothing choices. I don’t have to wear the same clothes ever day or even every week. With so much poverty in our world, a change of clothes is not insignificant. While my fashion sense may imply that I don’t have that many choices, I really do.
I am physically able. We take our physical abilities for granted until we no longer have them. I have friends with physical impairments, vision loss or hearing problems who go through life with a much better attitude than some of my fully abled friends. We should learn from that.
I drove to the store. As a teenager, I remember being told that driving is a privilege, not a right. Our mobility is important to connect us with people, places and things. To have a well-running car is a blessing.
I paid my bills. I feel grateful that I don’t have to regularly worry about how I will pay my bills. Many people struggle from month to month wondering if they can make ends meet. I know that I am lucky to have a job and a regular paycheck.
I have friends and family who care about me. My relationships in life are valuable to me. These relationships will be the aspect of life that sustains me. But, I must remember that relationships don’t maintain themselves. They must be nurtured.
There are many other areas in life for which I’m grateful but I came up with this list before I even started my day! I believe it’s these routine things that we often take for granted. And yet, when we start our day being grateful for the seemingly insignificant aspects of our lives, how can the day go wrong?
So, you may wonder, what am I NOT grateful for? I could easily outline the things for which I am not appreciative. But why would I do that? Isn’t more powerful to focus on the blessings than to point out the flaws in our life or work? I would not be better for focusing on the negative. So, suffice it to say that I choose to study the grateful list rather than to create an ungrateful one.
Life is full of choices. One of the most powerful is to choose to be grateful. Stephen Colbert has built his life on it. Maybe we can too.