Before class on this past Monday, I came to a BIG realization. I understood something about me that I have never noticed before. This revelation truly changed my thinking! I realized that I am not a very thankful person!
Yes, I am very thankful for what I have in life. However, saying that I am thankful and actually ACTING thankful are two different things. What you DO and how you THINK would truly show how thankful you really are.
If I complain about one thing, that shows that I am ungrateful. Really, what is it in life for me to complain about? I have everything I need. No, I don't have everything that I want, but I surely have everything I need to survive and thrive: a home, a car, a wife and kids, food in the fridge, a garden, friends, a great home church, internet, a flat-screen T.V. that was given to us, two bathrooms, a job, great health -- man, what is there for me to be ungrateful for?
But you see, we are ungrateful because we don't have what we WANT. While we have all that we NEED, we focus more on what we don't have -- and that makes a sour person.
Whenever I am in a foul mood, it's because, at the base level, I am ungrateful. Instead of looking around at the things I have going on, I am just focused on all the reasons for me to be sour. Kind of like children: they would complain and complain about what they don't have and forget about all the stuff that they DO have. Of course, I can't completely blame kids for being ungrateful, because thankfulness is a DISCIPLINE. Nobody is naturally thankful. You need to LEARN how to be thankful -- and not just how to be thankful when times are good, but also when times are bad. You need to learn how to be thankful when everything goes your way, and when nothing goes your way.
Going back to children, my daughter decided to complain about something ridiculous (of course to me, almost all complaints that children have are ridiculous). We were all in the car riding around in Creedmoor, N.C. I was trying to calmly address her complaint (which, again, was ridiculous), but she kept complaining more and more and it had gotten me so upset that I threatened to give her a consequence if she kept complaining.
Later on, while in the car, I had to give her (yet another) lesson about thankfulness and how her complaining showed that she wasn't thankful for what she already had. Actually, teaching kids about thankfulness is quite a frustrating tasks, because they NEVER seem to get it. That shows that thankfulness is a DISCIPLINE. No one will get it right away. Despite all the lessons you've heard and read about thankfulness, you still won't get it -- until you truly see the real POWER of thankfulness.
If you're tired of getting depressed and frustrated in life, being thankfulness will solve that problem. Once you start to learn what you do have going for you, you won't tend to be sour about life.
When you get up in the morning to get ready for work, instead of being hateful about your job, try thinking like this: my bills are paid, I have food to get, I have money for gas, I have clothes in the closet. If you don't think those things are important, then try leaving your job. You will quickly see the importance in these things!
Right now, I am in the mist of finding a job -- and I absolutely HATE the idea that I have to be away from the family for hours each day. I am also not thrilled that I might be working night shifts. However, while I don't like the situation, I am grateful for whatever I get that brings in income.
It wasn't too long when I had to ask my mother for money -- and man, that kills your pride! But, she is always willing to help out. Asking Mommy for money is a stressor for me, however I am thankful that she is there to help. Instead of having my pride bruised, let me just simply say THANK YOU and take her gift.
Years ago, I had to ask my church for money -- and, man, did I feel horrible! It's like everybody is blessed with good fortune and they have to take care of me! However, instead of thinking about my pride, I ought to have just said THANK YOU and take their gift -- which I did, of course, even though I didn't like it.
We all have been (and still are in) situations that we don't like. We still can't complain about it. In the end, everything really does turn out for the better. Sometimes, we need to be put in bad situations so that we could discipline ourselves to be thankful. It's really easy to get sour. It takes NO effort to complain, but it takes real STRENGTH to see the blessings in every situation and to practice thankfulness.
Tomorrow, when you eat that turkey, be thankful that you are eating somewhere. Be thankful that you are eating something! When you go to those Black Friday sales, be thankful that you have money to spend. There is always somebody out there who wishes he or she has what you have.
See you tomorrow for class -- early in the morning!
Aiyo A. Jones
Group Fitness Instructor