Joy for Thanks
There’s something very healthy about being thankful.
Fortunately, being thankful isn’t something that hits us once in a while; instead it is a state of mind that we choose and that we nurture. The effects of thankfulness are profound, as our minds are happier and our bodies have more energy.
Thankfulness as a state of mind is a powerful example of Choice Theory in action. Total Behavior – one of the key elements of Choice Theory – describes how our behavior is made up of four parts – 1) the thinking part, 2) the acting part, 3) the feeling part, and 4) the body or physiology part. It further describes how two of these parts – our thinking and our acting – are under our direct control, while the other two parts – our feelings and our physiology- are under our indirect control. In other words, when it comes to our thoughts, we decide the patterns and topics on which we will dwell. This does not mean that we won’t have thoughts of sadness, resentment, fear, or anger. It just means that instead of allowing these negative thought patterns to settle in and take up residence in our heads, that we will choose to think differently, to maybe identify reasons for which to be thankful, and to focus on the people and things that are need-satisfying in our lives.
I tried what you talked about in class, the idea that we can choose to be grateful, instead of marinating in the sad and angry stuff. It was mostly dark when I first woke up this morning. I laid in bed and kind of got my bearings, thinking about the day ahead, thinking about my life, in general. I started thinking the usual thoughts, the my-day-is-going-to-suck stuff, which then led to my relationship with my wife sucks, my relationship with my kids sucks, my job is driving me crazy, my spiritual life is dead-end, etc. You get the point. The thing is, maybe because of our discussion in class, I actually became aware of my thinking and took a kind of inventory of it. I actually thought a little prayer to myself that went like, “Jesus, I am thinking crappy thoughts right now, thoughts that I think are a distortion of my life. I ask for your help in recognizing the good in my life.” I then chose to reject the crap and think about the blessings – my relationship with my wife is better than I give it credit for; my kids are amazing human beings that I treasure; my job can be hard, but I have a job; the day did look challenging, but I realized that solutions would come and I would survive. My outlook shifted, my spirit, perilously close to becoming sour, became more optimistic instead. I guess I just wanted you to know that what we talked about in class works. At least it worked for me. Gabe
It is amazing that we have this kind of thought power! As much as anything else this power demonstrates the truth about Choice Theory, a truth that is also pointed out in Scripture and the Spirit of Prophecy. The book Education (1903), a classic, states that –
It is within the power of everyone to choose the topics that shall occupy the thoughts and shape the character. p. 127
And in his letter to the Philippians, the apostle Paul describes how –
I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Phil. 4:11-13
“Learning to be content” is such a great phrase! It seems to capture an element of the Choice Theory journey. To me, it reveals the process of learning to make particular choices, like the kind of choices Gabe made in the dim light of dawn as he laid in bed at the start of the day.
I recently read something pretty powerful in its own right, an insight from the November 24 entry of the Jesus Calling book. The author, Sarah Young, imagining Jesus talking to us, writes –
Thankfulness takes the sting out of adversity. That is why I have instructed you to give thanks for everything. There is an element of mystery in this transaction: You give Me thanks (regardless of your feelings), and I give you Joy (regardless of your circumstances).
Whether we choose to be thankful as an act of faith or not, such a choice will 100% of the time improve our lives. There are few things in life with 100% guarantees, but this is one of them.
On this day of Thanksgiving 2015 may we choose to think about the people and things in our lives for which we can be grateful.
Happy Thankfulness Day!!
A recent article from Tiny Buddha: Simple Wisdom for Complex Lives highlighted 9 Things Grateful People Believe. Those nine things are –
1 – Everyone has something to teach or offer me.
2 – There’s something valuable in every challenge.
3 – Even if I don’t have what I want, I’m fortunate to have what I need.
4 – The “little things” are the big things.
5 – I don’t have to have it all or do it all to be happy.
6 – Everyone’s blessings are different, and that’s okay.
7 – Things can – and will – change.
8 – It could always be worse.
9 – Life itself is a gift.