I’m writing this blog post on Thanksgiving Day, at my wife’s bedside in Cape Cod Hospital, where she is recovering from a severe reaction to a new chemotherapy.
This morning I sent word to friends who have been praying for her all week: “Her blood levels have returned to normal and pain meds reduced, so that's something to be grateful for this Thanksgiving Day.”
Is this true—that such small good news is grounds for gratitude?
You bet it is.
Gratitude happens when a happy—and often undeserved occurrence—exceeds our expectations.
Greek philosopher Epictetus found the key thousands of years ago when he taught his students to rejoice in what they have—not grieve for what they don’t.
It’s difficult to be thankful because life itself is difficult, writes Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute.
Add to life’s intrinsic difficulties our daily, minute-to-minute barrage of negative news. News media have trained us from our youth to dwell on negatives. Good news is seldom reported because it’s, well—it’s boring.
But evidence suggests that gratitude is a decision, and that opting in favor of thankfulness can increase our happiness.
Eliana Reyes, a writer and speaker, reminds us that, “Complaining is a sign of an ungrateful heart. When all you focus on is what's wrong, then you become unhappy. Instead of getting mad because things are not going your way or people aren't acting like you want, think of what is working. Meditate on what went well in your day and what you're thankful for before going to bed each night.”
As we read through the epistles of St. Paul, we realize that the tone of his every letter, whatever else it intends to convey, repeatedly expresses his gratitude. In many places he also links thankfulness with joy:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds.
If you don’t care much for what St. Paul has to say, consider G. K. Chesterton, that British Renaissance man who opined that, “thanks are the highest form of thought, and gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”
As I hold Jo Anne’s hand during her travail this Thanksgiving Day, I am thankful that I have known not only love, but great love. From her, from our daughters and grandsons, from more friends than I can count.
And when one knows love, one has seen the face of God. Because, as John, Christ’s “beloved apostle” has told us, “God is love.”
[The image above is “The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth” by Jennie Augusta Brownscombe, 1914]
In my next blog, “Curiosity Killed the Cat”
Read my newest book, Fat Guy in a Fat Boat, in print or Kindle from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Fat-Guy-Boat-Peter-Yaremko/dp/0990905012/
Also available is my e-book, A Light from Within, about the small moments of our lives that seem commonplace until they are examined under a creative lens.
- Amazon (Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00R3SF200
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