Which of These Four Not-So-Great Attitude Symptoms Do You Have?
A frantic jam-packed life leaves little time to check your attitude and, as I have told my children for years, attitude is everything!
It’s that Thanksgiving time of year again! People are hustling to prepare brag-worthy meals. Relatives and treasured friends are frantically traveling by planes, trains, and cars to gather together. Others are relishing time off of work and the abundance of football games to watch.
In all the frantic activity, it is easy to forget the whole point of Thanksgiving: to be thankful – to have a heart of gratitude.
How do you know when gratitude is missing? You don’t have a great attitude!
Gratitude = a great attitude!
Ingratitude = a not-so-great attitude
Have the Ingratitude Bug?
Which of these symptoms do you have?
If you’re complaining, you want things to be different than they are. Complaints are a way of expressing disappointment and reveal expectations that maybe you didn’t even know you had. You might be surprised to know that behind your complaints is fear.
It is next to impossible to compare yourself to anyone else because your circumstances, strengths, talents, gifts, personalities, etc. are uniquely different from anyone else’s. Your season of life, goals, and capacity are exclusive to you. It would be like comparing apples and eggs. They are both food and kind of round in shape, but are used in very different ways.
When you use other people as your gauge for success rather than just being you and doing your best it’s clear you don’t appreciate yourself.
Being able to appreciate the amazing qualities in others changes your perspective, and frees you up to be the unique kind of wonderful that God created you to be.
Do you find yourself trying to cram more and more into your schedule? Are your activities back to back with little margin to just be?
Filling your schedule to the brim, and then some, will actually keep you from getting whatever you are striving for. You have to stop and ask yourself what is motivating all the frantic activity? Success? Popularity? Significance? Being enough? Odds are fear is running you ragged!
Gratitude requires time to reflect and truly appreciate what you have. When there is more space in your day, it is easier to savor what you have – your relationships, work, and more! Why not slow down and do life in a rich deep way rather than scrambling from one thing to the next and only skimming the surface?
The misconception is that our circumstances dictate our contentment level. It’s next to impossible to be grateful and discontent simultaneously.
Contentment comes from knowing that God loves you, will take care of every aspect of your life, work, and relationships. From that place of contentment, you can see more clearly all the ways in which God is actively at work in your life. That’s worth being thankful for!
Consider Paul’s words:
Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need, His generosity exceeding even yours in the glory that pours from Jesus. Philippians 4:11-13, 19 (MSG)
This does not mean that you should become fatalistic and stop having goals or pursuing the calling God has placed on your life. Instead, it means going after those things with gusto and being OK when things don’t go the way you expected.
What’s the Rx?
Cultivating gratitude requires deliberate effort. The human tendency will always lean toward taking things for granted and wanting more.
How can you actively pursue more gratitude in your life?
Make it a habit to compliment the people around you. Be genuine and specific when you compliment others and expect nothing in return. Not only will this help you to look for the good in others and appreciate them more, it will also strengthen your relationships and help you maintain a positive attitude.
Choose to focus on the positive. Just like a good camera, you can focus on the most obvious object in the frame, or you can alter the focus and snap an entirely different picture. Rather that complaining about Aunt Martha’s harsh words and bad breath, challenge yourself to take note of the one, maybe incredibly small, positive thing you can point out about Aunt Martha. This will encourage you to keep a positive focus, and inspire Aunt Martha to be or do a little more of whatever you highlighted for her.
Keep a gratitude journal. Develop a habit of writing down five items you are thankful for every day. Your list should be specific, detailed, and positive. Try to avoid using the word “not.” Your list might be about events, ways others have blessed you, or the beauty around you. What makes your list does not have to be earth shattering – often times being grateful for the small and mundane things that you typically take for granted can be very profound.
I have found in my own life that when I struggle to find five things to be grateful for that something in my life is out of whack. It is a warning sign. When life gets hard, being able to look back at my gratitude journal reminds me of all I have to be thankful for and how well God takes care of me.
There are so many creative ways to express your gratitude! Write a thank you note or letter to express your gratitude or make a thankful collage.
A few years back, we started a Thanksgiving tradition where we pass around a pumpkin along with a marker. Each person at the table shares what they are thankful for looking back over the last year and then writes it down on the pumpkin.
You might put up a “gratitude bulletin board” at home or at work where everyone can share what they are thankful for.
Now this might take a little practice, but what if the next time you were tempted to say you were sorry, you responded with gratitude along with your apology? Here’s an example: Instead of just saying “I’m sorry I snapped at you” add “I’m sorry I snapped at you. Thank you for putting up with me when I have a short fuse.”
Where in your life are you feeling the symptoms of ingratitude? How would having a “great attitude” of gratitude improve your life or enhance your ability to lead?
This post has been revised and updated for your reading pleasure!
© Can Stock Photo / Elnur