As the holiday season ends and we return to the daily grind it's easy to become a little melancholic and quick-tempered. During these times especially, we allow negative emotions to take over our moods, torment our thoughts, and make it next to impossible to count our blessings and actually feel grateful for anything.
Would you like to have a bunch of sprightly flowers on the dining table or one with yellowing leaves and falling petals? With all humility, I think you would fancy the former. But that's me.
Would you rather run into a friend who greets you with a hug followed by a chirpy "I'm so happy to see you. How's life?", or one whose greeting is grimly expressed along the lines of "life's crappy and I'm just so exhausted!"? The difference between these two greetings - and attitudes - is palpable; Chirpy chose to count the blessings God had bequeathed her while Crappy opted to focus on her problems and in the process failed to see her blessings.
Is the cup half-empty or half-full? Does every dark cloud have a silver lining or does a silver lining always bring dark clouds? Our choice necessarily reflects our perspective and this is framed by our attitude as well as our readiness to count our blessings and be grateful for every little thing God has provided. When we perceive things more positively, we encourage our consciousness to be thankful for the little things we have and we will begin to feel more peaceful and hopeful. In one word, happier.
As Pope Francis said in a homily he delivered about gratitude, "saying 'thank you' is such an easy thing, and yet so hard! How often do we say ‘thank you’ to one another in our families? These are essential words for our life in common." Did our Holy Father actually hit the nail on the head with such a revelation? So easy, and yet so hard indeed.
In our families and among friends, in church, or at work, we should learn to adopt a positive attitude and make a conscious effort to count the many blessings that God gives us every day. Give thanks to God for small simple things we encounter in our daily grind: a pat on the back for a job well done, a hug from a loved one, a smile from a stranger. Be grateful that God brings helpful people to us every day: the priests who preach the Word of God, the teachers who shape the minds of our little ones, the social workers who sacrifice time and talent to serve others. All these and many other countless blessings are gifts from God and because they come from God, they are good.
As St Paul wrote to the Philippians, "do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." (Philippians 4:6).
Being thankful is a choice. As we prepare ourselves to enter into the reflective season of Lent, we can begin counting our blessings and gifts. Consider starting a journal for Lent: at the end of each day, jot down something - however trivial - for which we should thank God.
I do not yet know what my first entry would be, but I can guess my last entry might look like this: