“It’s not happiness that will makes us grateful, it’s gratefulness that will makes us happy.” – Br. David Steindl-Rast
It’s that time of year when gratitude comes to the forefront. At Thanksgiving, we are reminded to be thankful for what we have been given and the blessings that we enjoy. Even though it might be more difficult some times to cultivate gratitude, it’s important to remember that we always have something to be thankful for.
“When you begin to live with the awareness that everything in your life is a grace, a gift, and a blessing. When we stand before God we can never say, ‘This belongs to me.’ Except for my sin. But everything else from my spouse, my children, the roof over my head, the cars, the clothes on my back—everything is a grace, a gift, and a blessing,” explained Fr. Albert Haase, Franciscan priest, retreat center chaplain, and author.
Sometimes we fall into the trap of wanting more and more, and it seems that when we get more it’s never enough. Rather than always looking for more, better, and bigger, take a look at what you have and find gratitude in what’s around you.
Fr. Albert told the story of a woman whom he encountered regularly at the airport. “Every time I would go to pay my parking bill, she would always be reading her Bible. Every day I would ask her, ‘Elizabeth, how are you today?’ And she would always say, ‘You know, preacher man: I was blessed yesterday, I’m blessed today, and I’m gonna be blessed tomorrow.’ And what always struck me about Elizabeth was her gratitude had unlocked the fullness of life for her and it turned what she had into enough and more.”
Even in the midst of suffering, we can find ways to be grateful if we change our perspective. Is this pain or difficulty an opportunity to grown in faith, to learn empathy, or to strengthen relationships with our loved ones or God?
People who have learned to be grateful often radiate joy and happiness. “They don’t have worry, they don’t have anxiety, they just live this life of abundance knowing that God is going to take care of them and God is going to see them through,” said Fr. Albert.
He encourages each of us to dig deep and ask the question: “What am I grateful for? What are the gifts, the blessings, and the graces that God has showered upon me today and this year?”
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