It’s been said that the virtue that leads to all other virtues is gratitude. I love that sentiment, whether it’s true or not. I’m sure that by now, you both know people that are generally very happy and content with life, as well as people that can’t be satisfied and are upset with everything under the sun.
No one looks at a complaining person and a happy person and actively decides that they want to be more like the complainer. That’s just the truth of it. None of us grow up wanting to be whiny, complaining, discontent people. “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” - these are the very principles that our great nation is founded upon. We all want to pursue happiness, and want to have it in abundance.
Gratefulness plays a huge role in that.
If you look a little closer, I’m willing to bet that a common thread among those that are happy is that they’re also very grateful people. A couple of reasons for that.
Gratefulness causes you to think outside yourself.
A heart of gratitude causes you to be regularly thinking about the things that you’re thankful for, and keeps your mind off of yourself and on others. It keeps you being thoughtful about the external; about how others are feeling, about their actions and intentions.
By thinking about others, the altitude of your view gets higher. You get used to thinking about spheres outside your own. Your world becomes bigger.
Gratefulness causes you reflect on the beauty in your life.
When we stop to acknowledge the good that others have done in our lives, we stop moving, if only for a moment. This world that we’re living in is incredibly fast paced and is constantly trying to drown out any silence that gives you room to reflect. But taking the time to reflect on the many things we have to be thankful for, the many things that are beautiful, rich, and wonderful about our lives regularly; that truly is a great thing.
Gratefulness gives you the space to make mistakes.
When you approach your life with a heart of gratitude, it creates the space for the imperfections of humanity to breathe, to air out, to be released. So often we’re concerned about looking perfect, sounding perfect, appearing like we’ve got perfect lives on social media. We don’t give ourselves the space for the truth that is humanity - we’re not perfect. We’re not idyllic. We have flaws.
Gratefulness allows us to recognize that others can contribute to our lives, and in so doing allow us the space to recognize that we need others and aren’t perfect.
And so my prayer for you is that you will live lives that have an abundance of things to be grateful for, that are characterized by happiness, joy, and thankfulness. Hopefully when you read this, we’ve continued our nightly traditions of sharing three things that we’re thankful for each day. I started that with you several years ago in an attempt to set a regular pattern in all our lives of being grateful, and I pray that we’re still continuing with that tradition to this day. I love you boys.