Gratitude Through it All

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” —Gilbert K. Chesterton

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” —Albert Einstein

“Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.” —Alphonse Karr

“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

 -- Psalm 100:1-5
One of the best sounds in the world is a little kid laughing. In that moment, there is this overwhelming feeling that everything is right with the world, that it is beautiful and wonderful, and that true joy exists. In these moments of unfettered happiness, another emotion pops up: thankfulness. Thankfulness for children, for laughter, and for weird moments that children find hilarious. 

When we experience joy, gratitude tends to come along with it. A truly wonderful phenomenon is that the opposite is also true. Scientists have found that gratitude can reduce stress, increase sleep, and improve heart conditions. It has an almost instantaneous effect on mood, increasing feelings of well-being, happiness, and joy. 

When we focus on what we are grateful for, our minds dwell on the good things that are in our lives. We remember the people we love and why we love them, we remember the amazing events that have happened in our lives that border on miraculous, and we remember the goodness of God in a messy, broken world. 

This brings a boost to our minds and our souls, awakening a happiness and love that was lying dormant. It increases our sense of meaning in life, our overall satisfaction in life, and how hopeful we are. 

The opposite of gratitude is a lack of appreciation, or the inability to see the gift that was set before us. When we let our minds dwell in these places of lacking and of not seeing gifts, we are liable to start seeing dark storm clouds in every silver lining. We verge on never being content, never being happy, and finding fault in all things, even the great things.

We have all met people like that; they are never happy and trying to make them happy can be a waste of time and energy.

When we are grateful (expressing it or keeping it to ourselves), we not only add blessings and happiness to our own lives, but we bless those around us as well.  

What are you grateful for this week?