Busy today. Another excerpt from my speech.
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I think most of us recognize the material blessings in our life, that we live in a wealthy country, that all of our needs are met with abundance. Some of us have a little more, some of us have a little less, but all of us are well off by the standards of the world, so it’s not too hard to be grateful for our stuff.
I do think however that we forget to be grateful for something far more valuable than our stuff, and that is our time. We all assume that we will grow old. We’re all going to live to be a 100, aren’t we? But you know what? None of us are guaranteed another day. There’s no guarantee that we’ll even make it to the end of THIS day. We all know that. But few of us really live as though we know it.
I recently read the story of a man who knew his days were numbered. He knew he probably wouldn’t live to see the next season. And what struck me in his story was the gratitude he had for each new day, even though he suffered tremendously and was dealing with a lot of anxiety.
When gratitude becomes the frame through which you view the days of your life, when you can wake up every morning, thrilled to greet another day in whatever condition you find it, then you open yourself up to experiencing joy in it’s purest form. Your sense of well-being is no longer dependent upon external things which are little more than vapor.
What I hope and pray for anyone who has read thus far is that you can learn to do this without a prodding circumstance.
Gratitude’s partner is contentment, and together they combine to give you this sense of fullness and completeness that we call joy.
There are two nasty habits that kill contentment. One is not living in the present and the other is comparing yourself to others.
Contentment is found only in the present, in this very moment on this very day. If you are spending time regretting that you didn’t have the perfect childhood or thinking about how good life will be when your kids can finally walk/talk/get out of diapers, you are robbing yourself of contentment.
The other contentment killer is comparison. You can always look out your window and see someone who has it better. Comparing yourself to others encourages you to focus less on what you have and more on what you have not. Comparison allows discontent to take root, choking out gratitude and joy. Nothing good comes of comparison.
And here’s the thing about gratitude and contentment – the only person who can rob you of these things is you. No one but you.
So then, gratitude leads to contentment, contentment leads to joy and joy leads back to gratitude. And at the center of this cycle is peace.
The wise King Solomon wrote, “He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart.”
Joy is being occupied with gladness of heart. Joy is living in the moment with gratitude and contentment.