In a day when the pressure is on to buy the latest new gadgets or products, it is tempting to look and want more. Dr. Robert Emmons, in his new book on gratitude, says by the age of twenty-one the average adult will have seen one million TV commercials. By playing on our desires, our sense of gratitude diminishes and the want for more fills our mind. The wisdom of the bible tells us that Godliness with contentment is great gain. (1Timothy 6:6) Contentment can become a lifestyle we pass on to our children. It is done by living it before them. It is important for us to learn to focus on our blessings, rather than our minuses. In the 1800s, Charles Dickens said, "Reflect on your present blessings, of which every man has many; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some."
Life hurts, we gain, and we lose. Some days are better than others, and some heartaches take longer to heal. Once the initial trauma is over, if we look around, we can see others that are hurting as well. It is then that thankfulness can shine through, simply from having come 'through' our problems. And it all begins with a thought.
The bible says, "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind." (Romans 12:2) We get to choose where our mind goes, but it is not easy and we cannot do this by our self. Our Heavenly Father is so willing to come along side us, as we make a focused decision to change who we are by changing how we think.
I read an interesting article a few months ago of a country that passed a law in July of this year, requiring people to visit or keep in touch with elderly parents or risk being sued and possible penalties. The article stated that this law is basically to bring awareness to their problem of the aging population and their needs. Could gratitude for parents alleviate this problem?
When children are taught to be thankful for the good things that come their way, it changes their outlook on life. In addition, they can learn to be thankful for hard times as well, because they make us stronger. Children taught to be givers learn to see need. They develop compassion for those less fortunate. They grow to be thankful adults.
There are many websites to help parents with young children to focus on thankfulness. Check out www.happydoll.org
. In addition, a trip to Goodwill or Salvation Army, to take gently used toys that no longer fascinate your children, is a teaching moment. They learn needy children don't get new toys. Of course, thankfulness can start with a simple prayer at the table for food to eat. For those needing more than biblical wisdom on this subject, it has been proven scientifically, (check out Dr. Emmons' research), thankful people are happier people.
"In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." I Thess. 5:18 (NKJV)
Antje lives with her husband, Richard, in MS and is a columnist for Parents & Kids Magazine. She loves writing and speaking on marriage and parenting. She is the mother of three sons.
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