Sunday, October 26, 2008

Counting Your Blessings

The Irving Berlin song "Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep)" (made famous by Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney in the movie "White Christmas") tells us,

When I'm worried and I can't sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep
And I fall asleep counting my blessings
When my bankroll is getting small
I think of when I had none at all
And I fall asleep counting my blessings.

There must be something to this "count your blessings" thing. I've heard the advice given more times than I can remember, and I've even put it into practice in my own life. When you feel discouraged or let down, make a list of things that you are thankful for. Next thing you know, you're spirits are lifted. Maybe not in a "now I can take on the world" way, but you at least feel better about yourself and your situation. There's a word for this phenomenon, and that word is

G R A T I T U D E.

Gratitude. Thankfulness. When we think of these feelings we often associate them with events and situations where we have received a gift or a favor from someone else. Most of us can think of several awesome things we have received over our the course of our lives -- birthday and Christmas gifts, being taken to lunch when we didn't expect it, someone helping you financially when you really needed it. And when we express our gratitude it is right to express it to the person who gave the gift in the first place, whether it is a friend, family member, the waiter who kept our water glass full, and especially to God, who gives us everything to begin with.

The Bible tells us, "it is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35). With that in mind, perhaps we should see gratitude not as a by-product of receiving something, but an opportunity to give to others. Our gratitude should compel us to extend that feeling to someone else, to "pay it forward," if you will. Taking advantage of "grateful giving" opportunities often involves a desire to do good for others financially. But for you whose "bankroll is getting small" it does not necessarily mean having to give something tangible (see my post on "Being Useful"). It simply has to be from the heart. Often a word of encouragement or a gentle touch can be worth far more than any "thing" bought in any store, and the feeling of gratitude felt by the recipient can last a lifetime.

The typical question in a post about gratitude is "What are you grateful for?" I'll close with a twist on that typical question and ask,

"Outside of your normal circle of influence, who has shown gratitude to you this week, and why?"

Comment me, and let me know

No comments: