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Gratitude – A sudden Zap and a 24-hour wrap!

There are times in my life when I am shocked back into a balanced perspective. One such time occurred recently when I watched a clip from America’s Got Talent. It is a must watch!

I was zapped! Below I list some takeaways from that experience: reminders to myself. Maybe they will be meaningful for you as well. In the above video, Jane (Nightbirde), an incredibly radiant lady, says the following about her terminal cancer: “You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy. I have a 2% chance of survival. But 2% is not 0%, so that is something. I wish people knew how amazing it is.”

Through copious tears, I remind myself of what I already know but don’t always practice. There are biological things within us and environmental things around us that can easily break down our health and rob us of our outward strength, things we may not be able to prevent. Like Nightbirde, we may come face-to-face with the stark reality of own mortality. The miracles of modern medicine can sometimes prolong our days, at times even cure our ailments. But honesty forces us to agree with Shakespeare, “Life is but a walking shadow.” (MacBeth)

Despite this undeniable truth, there is a strength we can cultivate which supersedes physical strength. It is the strength of spirit. If we will make the necessary choices, and take the necessary time to cultivate that strength, we will be overcomers, in every way, until our last breath is taken on earth.

There is a secret elixir, a steroid for the spirit which is essential if we wish to emerge victorious from the worst of life’s battles. It is called gratitude.

Here are some practical, applicable pointers on building the strength of the spirit through gratitude:

1. Make peace with your past. At all costs, settle this issue! You cannot change things which have happened to you, nor can you change the people who initiated those things. But you can change your perspective. I decided a while ago to view traumatic events in my past from a different vantage point. Instead of seeing them as ‘stumbling blocks,’ I begin to understand them as ‘building blocks.’ Every adverse situation contains potential ingredients for personal growth. Perhaps the greatest empathic gifts we can cultivate and exercise are recognized and released in the aftermath of personal calamity.

2. Own your present. It is what it is! Contentment is never about where you are, what you want or even about what you may need. It is about thankfulness for what you currently have. A sour disposition does nothing except imprison you in your current situation. Every new day presents opportunities to add value to the lives of others around us. An attitude of gratitude stops self-pity in its tracks. Adding to the worth of others boosts our own feelings of self worth.

3. Start your day by listing a few things for which you are thankful. I try to do this even before I rise in the morning. It sets a positive pace for the rest of the day’s agenda. There is never any problem finding the good things that compliment my life. I am no different than you in this matter.

4. Verbally express gratitude throughout the day. There is something about a public, verbal confession that ‘seals the deal.’ Statements of gratitude also elevate the conversations and attitudes of those around you. You can literally change the entire tone of your social environment through expressed thanks. Raising the gratitude bar around you will also increase the sense of purpose and fulfillment within you.

5. Gravitate towards grateful people. Either extricate yourself from a negative environment or determine to change by your own grateful conduct. Negative conversation whether oral or in social media posts saps emotional strength and leaves you feeling anxious and depleted. I have had to reluctantly ‘snooze’ numbers of people on my social media feeds who only added to my angst and stress.

6. Wrap up your day reflecting on blessings you enjoy. They are there to find regardless of your circumstances. Let your last waking thoughts be thoughts of gratefulness. It will sweeten your dreams.

I cannot guarantee this ‘gratitude formula’ will extend the days of your life. However, I can assure you with certainty that it will enrich them.

“In everything gives thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

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