As a new parent, I find myself looking at life differently these days. Many parents, new and old, can probably relate to the increased sense of gratitude that comes with a child and the clarity it provides in looking at the rest of the world.
I’ve come to understand there is a big difference between simply counting your blessings and experiencing the sense of contentment and joy that comes with being genuinely thankful for each and every one of them.
I recently did a Google search to find evidence that would connect our sense of gratitude to the amount of joy we feel in our lives. It was a search for a simple fact or statistic that would add weight to common sense; groundwork for the unavoidable call to prove it.
What I found was staggering. Yes, common sense did prevail, the more thankful we are the happier we are. But I was surprised by the amount of research and study that has been conducted by doctors, professors and endless other well financed researchers to prove the positive relationship between thankful and joyful - a relationship apparently more complicated than I thought.
Many of these studies have been part of a growing field of psychology, “positive psychology” – in general, the scientific study of what goes right in life. When I realized it has only been in the last twenty years that scientists have decided to take a hard look at considering the impact of gratitude on life, I took my search elsewhere.
I wonder if the Apostle Paul knew just how far ahead of the game he was when he said to the Philippians, 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Paul would go on to tell the Philippians that he had discovered the secret of being content in all situations - a secret he shared while in prison.
Paul knew that gratitude wasn’t an attitude, but more a perspective that helped shape our overall outlook on life. When we consider the events of our life against the way we would like it to be or against the way we feel entitled for it to be, we leave ourselves prone to a life of ingratitude. When we compare our lives against the plan that has been laid out for us, we are more likely to be thankful for every opportunity to live out that plan – as difficult as our role in that plan might get at times.
There is no question that the birth of my son Elliott has provided me my own opportunity to examine life through the microscope of thankfulness. It has helped me look at my life – past, present and future – with a sense of peace that transcends all understanding.
It is my goal in providing frequent updates to this blog to share that peace.