Accentuate the positive

I overheard an irritating interesting comment today.  If you go on the Facebook site at all in the month of November, you will find many people posting daily a note of gratitude for “30 days of thanks”.  This is the first year I’ve participated, but I’ve always thought it was a wonderful idea.

So my acquaintance was on a bit of a rant against this little activity.  Mocking those who post their daily thanksgiving, she criticized them (including me), saying we ought to be showing gratitude the rest of the year.  She acted as though we were all morons to not just post one big thank-you to everyone we’ve ever met and leave it at that.

Well, here is my response (I had to bite my tongue so as not to lash back at this particular person):

  • One, no one is forcing you to read their gratitude lists.  If you don’t like what you see on Facebook or any other social media site, don’t go there.  I have gone on hiatus from Facebook before. Do what you need to do.
  • Two, you don’t know me and you have no business judging me for expressing a little gratitude for the good things in life.  As a matter of fact, most of us don’t restrict our thanksgiving to this month on Facebook.  I do say thanks to those who have blessed me, and on a pretty regular basis.  I send notes of gratitude and make phone calls.  i pray to God to thank Him many times every day for His grace and mercy.  It’s not as if I sit around being a brat the other eleven months of the year, expecting everyone to cater to my every whim and never offering up a thank-you.
  • Three, what on earth is the issue with a little bit of positivity?  So people want to take a few moments to verbalize something for which they are thankful.  Lord knows, there’s more than enough heartbreak and suffering in our lives–maybe you should accept the fact that some of us can still choose joy.  Without it, life would be pretty bleak.
  • Four, I am doing this daily because it’s an exercise in discipline, and because to me, a blanket thank-you for everyone and everything holds very little meaning.  I like reflecting every day on what is good and deciding which specific person or incident or circumstance makes me truly thankful that day.  The fact that it’s almost always difficult to choose one thing tells me something, too: I am so richly blessed, I can hardly complain about any of my problems.

Pausing to acknowledge one’s blessings is good for emotional well-being.  It’s good for the soul to dwell on joy rather than sorrow.  This is not some naive denial of the tough realities.  This is a choice–to focus on the good.  The trials and hard situations are still present, but we can make the decision to not be controlled by them.  Attitude does matter.

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (I Thessalonians 5:18).  Following the 30 days of thanks is one tool that can help people to start looking at their lives through a more positive lens.  It’s not the only way to show thankfulness, but sometimes we simply need a little push to make that attitude shift.  I want to be a grateful person, one who acknowledges gifts like a loved one’s hug, a cool breeze on a hot day, a trustworthy friendship.  God gives me these and so much more, so I’ll respond with gratitude.

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