Not too long ago, I was lamenting the fact that I am a realist. It is easy for me to wear “the black hat” in meetings. I see facts and circumstances more quickly than possibilities and vision. I tend to live in the present rather than the future. Yes, I have learned the leadership skills for strategic foresight and communicating a compelling vision, and I utilize them well, but they aren’t in my natural zone…And so my thoughts went on.
Then, in the midst of my mental wrestling, inspiration broke through.
The pessimist sees the glass half empty. The optimistic sees the glass half full. More importantly, the person of gratitude is thankful for the glass and what it contains.
I can’t really change the way I’m wired. However, I can choose my response to what I see. Whether the glass is half empty or half full, I can choose to be thankful. I can choose to give thanks for the things that are going well. Even when circumstances are difficult, I can choose to give thanks. Not necessarily for it, but in the midst of it, because God’s grace, strength, and encouragement are extended to me. As I choose to express thanksgiving, hope rises in my heart and spills out on others around me. I call this “The Gratitude Approach.”
Many Bible passages instruct us to give thanks always, for everything, in all circumstances (Ephesians 5:20; Colossians 3:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:18). This seems like an amazingly tall order! What is even more amazing to me is that God does not ask us to do something that is impossible! Of course, “The Gratitude Approach” does not occur naturally. It comes as we spend time with Jesus and allow His life to flow in us, and then through us. It comes as we walk in His grace.
When we practice “The Gratitude Approach,” we acknowledge the ways (no matter how small) God has revealed His care to us. We take our eyes off the stress and difficulties of life, family, and workplace, and focus them where they belong–on the Giver of life and breath, on the Provider of all our needs, on the Artist who inspires and creates, on the Lover of our souls who is more than enough. Then we can see that God indeed is actively working His special plan and has invited us to join Him.
As we prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday, I challenge you to consider “The Gratitude Approach” as your own. Pessimist? Realist? Optimist? Choose to be grateful on Thanksgiving Day and beyond.