It is the most rudimentary of all societal rules, the very beginning of learning how to be polite. Little Marcus says, "I want a bite!"
Mom turns and says, "What do we say?"
"Pleeease," Marcus shouts.
"Okay. Here you go," Mom replies, handing him a small bite. Marcus tears into it and gets that look he has seen before--Mom is not done with him yet. And so, through peanut butter, jelly, and bread (that sprays across the room) comes the muffled response, "Thank you."
One would think that if, from birth, we had parents, guardians, teachers, and others telling us to always remember to say thank you that we would, in fact, remember. And yet, being a person with a consistent attitude of thankfulness is really not as easy as it seems it should be. I think part of this has to do with the human psyche. We can have 10 people tell us how amazing we are, and yet we remember the comment made by the one person who criticized or belittled us. Likewise, we can go through our day and encounter a hundred reasons to be grateful--our friends, our home, the beautiful sunset, or the taste of a nice meal. And yet we often return home angry because of the bad driver that almost hit us, the rude customer at the store, or the boss that never let up all day.
Thankfulness, gratitude, is a choice. We choose whether we focus on the frustrating parts of our day or if we choose to remember and focus upon the positive, the encouraging, and the good. This choice does not change the details of our life. We still experience the good and bad, the blissful and painful, the exciting and terrifying. The difference is not in what we endure. The difference is in where we set our gaze. We cannot choose what will happen today or tomorrow, but we can choose what to focus on. We can choose to look for the positive, to find reasons in each moment to be grateful, and to insist on a positive attitude even when it would be easier to become cynical or jaded.
Colossians 3:15 says, "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful." In Eugene H. Peterson's The Message,he translates the last phrase, "Cultivate thankfulness." So, in this week when we are mindful of all we are thankful of, I challenge you to cultivate thankfulness in each and every day of your life. Set your gaze on the positive and seek to become a person of gratitude. Cultivate the life you want!