Having an attitude of gratitude sounds like one of those phrases coined by someone who always has it easy in life…
My mom has this saying – “People complain with a loaf of white bread in their basket”. This is a saying that probably needs a really good explanation as it’s very South African.
In South Africa the government has rated certain foods as zero tax items to help low income households. These are essentials as fresh produce, milk and bread, but not just any bread, only standard brown bread. This zero tax rate doesn’t apply to white bread, whole wheat bread, multigrain, seed bread, Italian bread, French loaves etc. It only applies to plain old brown bread.
Mom grew up on brown bread, because life was tough in a single income household. My grandma was a nurse in an old folk’s home and while she loved her job, she didn’t get paid very much. Mom understood what it meant to ‘tighten the belt’.
I guess the point I’m trying to make is this – if someone could afford to buy white bread, they still had it good. Mom applied this saying to other areas of life as well though and just adopted a ‘Don’t complain, never make excuses’ attitude in life. This was something she lived and her children, me included, got to witness her always finding that silver lining. I think she sometimes lassoed a couple of clouds out of the way to do so, but find it, she would.
When she was raising my two younger sisters on her own, nobody ever heard about the all-nighters she pulled in a little clothing factory. Nobody knew about her 24-30hr shifts bent over a sewing machine, because she was so grateful to have a job, that complaining wasn’t something she even considered.
Mom is one of those people that bring sunshine into a room with her. She’s always positive and always brimming with enthusiasm for life – even at 74. Through all the hardship she’s known, she’s always managed to give thanks to God in the midst of her trials.
When we take God at His word, that He works all things together for our good, that He wants to give us a hope and a future, then we too can give thanks in the midst of the storms. The truth is, if you look, there is always something to be grateful for.
Waking up, breathing, having your heart beat rhythmically in your chest, having a roof over your head, a comfortable bed. Maybe a loving spouse next to you, healthy children in the adjoining rooms. Looking forward to breakfast, having a job to take care of your needs, freedom. Knowing that the God, who created the universe, loved you enough to let His Son die for you. I know that many people can’t tick off all these boxes, but are able to add different ones. There is no one who can’t at least tick off a few. Even if all you have are two of these things, you have something to be grateful for.
Having an attitude of gratitude is a choice. Decide to look for the things you have to be grateful for. Focus on them, instead of on the things you can’t have. Stop complaining and start celebrating the gift of today.
I challenge you to sit down and make your own list of all the things you have to be grateful for. Stick it on your fridge, where you and your family can see it. If you feel like it, share it with me.
Take the time not only to express your gratitude in prayer but also to your loved ones. Say thank you to the people around you for the things they do, even when they’re just doing their duty. Showing gratitude makes an impression on people, it makes them feel seen, loved and appreciated. Try it out and see for yourself.