Thursday night at a Bible Study in Indianapolis, prayer requests were taken before hand. A friend, Sandy, had just arrived after being at a hospital with her husband, Ron, for most of the week. Ron was a severe diabetic with heart disease and was often hospitalized. Sandy was physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted, BUT, despite her trial and tribulations, she would smile and say, “I’m praising Him through my circumstances!” Her faith and trust in God helped her remain thankful during difficult times, even when Ron died a year later.
When we experience tough times, it’s easy and natural for us to dwell on the negative. Being honest with ourselves, we’ll find we often have a pity party for one and tend to make those around us miserable, too. We have to decide if we’re going to make a change or not.
There is always something to be thankful for, even when life throws a curveball. Having an attitude of gratitude will help you manage and cope with whatever difficulty you’re facing. It’s not a magical formula that makes your problems disappear instantly. Instead, it’s a good habit you develop over time with practice that allows you to see your circumstance through a new light.
Here are three ways to develop an attitude of gratitude:
1. Find one thing you’re good at and do it.
If you enjoy painting, whether it’s a wall or a sunset, get some bright colored paint and brighten up your living space. If your life feels out control and you’re a good organizer, you can either declutter a closet or a garage. Do people rave about your chocolate chip cookies? Well, then get baking and share your treats with a neighbor or friend. These ideas will help you turn your focus away from bad and towards something good.
2. Start with anything.
Whether it’s the fact that you’re alive, have a reliable car, in good health, have food on the table, or have the love of family and friends, these things will give you a reason to be thankful. Your dark day won’t look so gloomy after all.
3. Help someone else.
You’re not alone in the problem department. Everyone is struggling with something, whether you realize it or not. Consider going to the grocery store for a neighbor who can’t walk very far, baking a pie for a friend who was just discharged from the hospital, or volunteering at a local shelter. When we can encourage the people around us, we start to find ourselves feeling encouraged too. It’s a win-win for everybody.
Like I said before, being thankful doesn’t make our problems disappear all at once. There are some storms in our lives that may stay for a while. My friend, Sandy, wasn’t always smiling through her pain, but she had learned to develop that attitude of gratitude to help her cope and get through each day.