Are you thankful? It is a question most people have been asked, or asked themselves, in one context or another. I would imagine most of us would say, “yes, we are thankful.” We could name things, people, or circumstances for which we are thankful, which is great.
However, is that really what the question is asking, or does it go deeper? What if the question was reframed to, “are you living a life of gratitude?” That would take most of us a few more minutes to answer. Sure, I am thankful for many things in my life, but am I living my life through the lens of gratitude? That’s a harder question. What does it mean to live a simply thankful life and why does it matter?
The ability to live thankfully is greatly influenced by where you start. To say it another way, your approach to life plays a big role in how you see life and your reaction to it. Question: do you believe life (the universe, God, the world, etc.) owes you something, or do you see each day as a gift?
These are two very different starting places. If you are owed something, this means you either earned it or were harmed in some way. This will frame the opportunities and blessings that come into your life as foregone conclusions. In other words, there was an expectation that you should have them. This leads to little excitement when they arrives and great disappointment when they don’t. It is hard to live thankfully when you believe you are the primary source of your own good fortune.
This can also create a sense of hopelessness when life doesn’t go the way you expected. When the, “I did this, therefore, this should be the result”, transaction doesn’t go as planned it can leave us feeling disillusioned about life. I am not saying there are not times we are owed something or have been harmed–that is certainly the case. The problem comes when we frame our entire life around that premise. So, what is the other option?
Seeing each day as a gift. Instead of believing you are owed, this perspective frames opportunities and blessings as unmerited favor. To say it another way, when each day is a gift, the many things we tend to take for granted become unexpected bonuses to be enjoyed and celebrated. This frames life as something you have received instead of something you created, producing a sense of thankfulness.
This also becomes a source of hope. When you start to live a simply thankful life, you stop being the primary source of everything you receive. This means your life experience is no longer your frame of reference for your hope. Instead, you can find hope in something bigger–the very place from which life and all of its blessings derive: the God who created you on purpose and for a purpose.
As Thanksgiving approaches here in the United States, I hope you will reflect on your perspective of life. Do you see your life as a gift or something you are owed. Your answer to this question will play a big role in your ability to life a simply thankful life. It will also play a big role in your ability to hold onto hope.
May you find yourself simply thankful this Thanksgiving!
Click here for more resources to help you bring hope to others!