Being Grateful and Feeling Content
Every year during the season of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years, we all focus a little extra on feeling grateful. Throughout the holidays we get into the spirit of giving, loving one another, and feel thankful for all of the blessings in our life. This time of year, blessings may come in waves or a Chrsitmas miracle may find its way into your life. However, once the fun ends or the day has passed, we may not all feel the overwhelming presence of gratitude. Maybe this time of year you’re not exactly where you want to be in life or perhaps things aren’t really going your way as this season can bring different hardships.
In this week’s blog, I’ll be discussing gratitude and contentment and what those two words realistically look like in our daily lives.
If a friend were to ask me to list specific things I’m grateful for, it would be an easy list to come up with. I would say…
- I’m grateful for shelter and the home I get to live in.
- I’m grateful for the endless amounts of food I have at my disposal.
- I’m grateful for the higher education I am currently receiving.
- I’m grateful for the multiple jobs I have to make a living.
- I’m grateful for having a healthy and able body.
- I’m grateful for my freedoms and the protection my country provides.
- I’m grateful for friends and family.
… Just to name a few as the list could go on and on.
Now if the same friend asked why I’m grateful for those things, that would be an easy question to answer as well. I would say…
- I’m grateful for shelter and the home I get to live in because I know so many people are homeless and don’t have a warm or safe place to stay.
- I’m grateful for the endless amounts of food I have at my disposal because not everyone has access to any amount of clean and nutritious food or even food at all.
- I’m grateful for the higher education I am currently receiving because so many people don’t get the opportunity to learn or get an education.
- I’m grateful for the multiple jobs I have to make a living because I know so many others struggle to make ends meet or are unable to get a job to provide for themselves or their family.
- I’m grateful for having a healthy and able body because so many others are sick or disabled.
- I’m grateful for my freedoms and the protection my country provides because I know others live in a hostile, dangerous, or war stricken country with no place to feel safe.
- I’m grateful for friends and family because I know many others have had a loved one pass away or are currently lacking a loving support system.
Now what if that same friend asked me how long my gratitude lasts or how often the feeling of gratefulness washes over me?
Well, there lies the problem. All of those times of gratitude are short lived or based upon something or someone else’s condition. I don’t think anyone has a problem of feeling grateful when you compare yourself or your life circumstances to people at war, or others who are homeless, or those who go with eating only one meal a day, or someone who’s suffering from a serious life threatening health condition. It’s an easy assumption to make that we all feel appreciative or thankful for what we have, looking at those different situations
The challenge however, is feeling grateful for what we have when we compare ourselves to others who have more. It’s funny how our gratitude and full hearts slowly begin to disappear when you step into someone’s brand new glamorous home, or when you walk through the mall and see all of the “must haves” in trending winter fashion.
If we were to add a “dot, dot, dot” after each thing we are grateful for, it might go a little like this:
- I’m grateful for the higher education I am currently receiving because so many people don’t get the opportunity to learn or get an education…but I wish I was smarter and could get A’s in all my classes to pass with honors and guarantee a job after graduation.
- I’m grateful for the multiple jobs I have to make a living because I know so many others struggle to make ends meet or are unable to get a job to provide for themselves or their family…but I wish I was manager of my team so I could have a higher paying job and afford a wealthy lifestyle.
- I’m grateful for having a healthy and able body because so many others are sick or disabled…but I wish I looked like that super fit girl/guy I see in the gym all the time and had a better body.
This is where change needs to happen to live a truly and continuously grateful life. I think we all need to work on finding contentment with gratitude rather than just little bursts of gratitude here and there.
If we can work towards being grateful despite who or what we’re comparing ourselves to, then we can develop a more deep and real sense of gratitude that lasts instead of the short lived gratefulness that comes when we make a comparison to others with less or the feeling we get when we reflect on our life/accomplishments each year.
I think it’s also beneficial to point out that contentment doesn’t mean you don’t have goals or things you’re striving to change in your life. It simply means not allowing your “wants” to take over and not letting your “dot, dot, dots” keep you from your sense of gratitude.
As we all focus on gratitude this holiday season, it’s important to also focus on contentment too. It’s not just about being grateful for what you have that others don’t. It’s more about being grateful for what you have in spite of what others have that you don’t.
Gratitude and contentment challenge: Pay attention to what steals your gratitude in each moment and make an effort to feel grateful and content with you and you alone when it’s the most difficult.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s blog and have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
As always, stay fit, stay healthy, stay beautiful Warhawks.