“Nothing should be prized more highly than the value of each day.”—Goethe
“They call it take-home pay because there’s no other place you can afford to go with it.” Such quips are rather harmless, but some people become embittered—and unbalanced—by such sour-grapes sentiments. A focus on what we lack, rather than what we have, produces discontent.
An acquaintance called me recently just to chat, and in the course of the conversation he complained about what a small bonus he’d received from his company after successfully completing a long project.
Then, almost sounding embarrassed, he caught himself and recanted: “But after all, it was a bonus—not something they’d owed me.”
Gratitude is a matter of attitude. Perseverance, gratefulness, and humility may play as much a part in our lives as talent and reward.
“It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes success.”
At the age of thirty-eight, Johann Sebastian Bach had to compete with five others for the job of choirmaster at Saint Thomas Church, Leipzig. He got the job—not because of his already growing musical reputation, but because he alone agreed to teach Latin five days a week to elementary-age children in the church school!
Gratitude and joy spring from awareness. Some people seem to sleepwalk through life without noticing the moments of true joy. On various “ordinary” occasions—like enjoying a holiday meal with all the family gathered around the table, like when a loved one brings you a hot cup of tea brewed with love, like hearing someone say that your counsel in a past conversation changed their life, like holding a newborn in the crook of your arm. On such occasions, I’ve been moved to tears about how blessed my life has been.
How about you?
To capture such feeling every day, we have to learn to interpret thoughts, feelings, signs, wishes, and body language of those around us. We have to admit awe and power when we see it. Empathy and humility bring awareness of how much we need and value those around us at home and at work.
This is not only the stuff of writers and poets. Have you captured a video recording of the last words of a loved one before he or she passed on to the next life? Have you written a note to express your gratitude to a dear friend who has stood by your side though the best and worst of times? Have you written song lyrics—either funny or serious—to a parent for “sticking with it” through your teen years? How about a note to a grown son or daughter to tell them how proud you are of their choice for a mate or career or community service?
The end product might not make a poetry anthology or earn a Nobel Prize in literature. But if it captures well your heartfelt gratitude, it will not fail to bring joy to the recipient.
Does your life seem to be one long, drawn-out sigh? If so, awareness of and gratitude for your blessings can make life’s predicaments more palatable.
“Be content with what you have.”—Hebrews 13:5
When is the last time you uttered a prayer of gratitude?
Learn more ways to commnicate gratitude with Communicate With Confidence!: How to Say It Right the First Time and Every Time.