With the holidays quickly approaching, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about this time of year and reflecting on what 2015 has meant to me. One of the biggest things I’ve been reminded of this year is just how much I have to be grateful for and what it means to be truly grateful. I work with kids on a daily basis, so I have the honor and privilege of shaping these young minds into compassionate, loving and kind little people. But, I’ve noticed that one of the hardest things to teach them is how to be grateful. Yes, they understand you have to say “thank you” when someone gives you something, but it’s really difficult to truly teach this middle class American generation (and mine too) what it looks like to be grateful. I think part of our society’s consumerism is to blame and our obsession with having the newest, biggest, brightest and best of everything. Unfortunately, kids learn from TV, movies, music, adults and stores that what they have isn’t good enough and that they deserve to have something more because someone else has something better than them. This is such a dangerous game to play. And I really don’t know how to fix it (but we certainly try).
As we know, when these kids grow up to be adults (aka all of us), this mindset doesn’t go away. Instead of being ungrateful because your parents won’t give you an iPhone at 7 years old or you don’t have the greatest video game of the month, we’re upset because someone has a better house than us or goes on a cooler trip or has a more glamorous job. I’m just as guilty as the next guy of comparing my life to others. Friends, that is never a good thing. I love the quote, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” because I think it explains so vividly what happens when we start to compare our lives to others and aren’t grateful for what we have.
I’ve found that really genuinely focusing my prayers on thanking God instead of asking him for things seems to help my overall attitude toward life. It’s a really nice way to ground yourself and remind yourself that all the things we have come from God. I’ve even found that just stopping to look at the sky or the changing leaves or my cute little apartment reminds me to be grateful.
So with this holiday season sneaking up on us quickly and consumerism being at its all time high (hello Black Friday), I encourage you to remind yourself of all the things you have to be thankful for. I bet there’s a lot more than you think! Recently, a co-worker was talking about how important it is to really get hold of your negative thoughts during this time of year and remind yourself of what you have to be thankful for. Holidays can be really difficult, because people might be in a tight spot financially or celebrating the holidays for the first time without someone or having to put up with difficult family members. But, trying to focus on the good can go a long way. As they say, gratitude is focusing on what you have rather than what you don’t have.
“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” -Colossians 3:17