Life can be tough. No doubt about it. Sometimes when we feel weighed down with cares it’s hard to feel grateful for anything, because the world feels so horrible.
When we are feeling like this it is extremely easy for us to become trapped in a doom and gloom cycle which would make the idea of a World Gratitude Day, to be held this year on 21 September, perhaps seem ironically laughable.
The good news is that, while we can’t always change the practical aspects of our lives, we can often change our response to life and the way we see, feel and analyse what happens to us.
A simple uplifting saying shared with me recently by a wise friend of mine beautifully summarises where I am coming from: “Two prisoners looked through the bars—one saw mud, the other saw stars.” This reframing of our circumstances is one of the little things we can do to help us cope.
Searching for the little joys in our lives is another way we can begin to focus on what we can change. When I do this I am amazed at how many uplifting things there are when we open our eyes and take time to look at the world God has given us.
For a start, spring is a marvellous time to go for a walk around the block or through a park. And don’t just walk; look around and take in the cheerful spring colours. For me, I see this in daffodils and wattle trees that are blooming—they make the world a brighter place. What colourful plants are flowering near you?
If flowers, trees and grassy hills don’t bring you joy perhaps a walk by a lake or ocean does. But then, maybe you are like me and love the walk to a local coffee shop for a steaming latte so I can bury my head for a few minutes in a favourite book.
Prayer is another option for when we are facing situations that seem impossible to solve. Praying can bring a great sense of peace for anyone. Passing the problem over to God helps. I pray for strength to cope, and for anyone I know who is having a rough time. If you decide to visit your local church and they have a prayer candle stand, light one and as you watch the flame flicker and burst into life, you can send out your prayers with that little candle flame.
Visiting your local Salvation Army to have a chat is another way of being uplifted, so phone in advance to set a time.
And let’s not forget that it’s not just about us being encouraged or grateful for what people do for us. We can also do practical things to help others we know who need a boost—like giving flowers, a card with some encouraging words, or perhaps a home-made batch of chocolate brownies.
People who receive little gestures like this will feel a great sense of gratitude, because we have given them the precious gift of our love and time in their hour of need.
In the Bible there’s a beautiful passage that reminds us of how powerful and important a thankful heart can be in this world.
“Don’t worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks for what you have. And because you belong to Christ Jesus, God’s peace will stand guard over all your thoughts and feelings. His peace can do this far better than our human minds” (Philippians 4:6–7).
That’s certainly something to be grateful for.