Todd Pearsons

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Everyone wants to be happy but the way to happiness eludes many. The fact is, most of us could and should grow in happiness. Some think that money can buy happiness, but research shows that money can only contribute to happiness below a certain annual salary. Some pursue pleasure and fame as a means to happiness, but this too is fleeting and a chasing after the wind.

One simple way to increase happiness is to increase thankfulness. Think about it, do you know any thankful people that are not happy? In contrast, I know that you can think of many people who are not thankful and not happy.

Here is the problem; thankfulness doesn’t come naturally to most people. Most people tend to grumble and complain rather than express appreciation and gratitude. We tend to focus on the negative and not the positive, the curses and not the blessings. This is one reason why there are so many unhappy people roaming our streets and reclining in our living rooms.

In addition to our complaining nature, our consumptive culture is hostile towards thankfulness. We are bombarded with messages of discontent in order to create profits for others. Seeds of discontentment can easily choke out gratitude and ultimately result in unhappiness.

HOW TO BE THANKFUL

The simple way to increase thankfulness is to change what you think about (Philippians 4:8). Instead of dwelling on what you don’t have, think about what you do have; instead of wallowing in a tragic past, revel in a better future. Instead of comparing yourself to others, give thanks for your unique life and calling. Instead of thinking that you deserve more than you have, humble yourself and rejoice in the good that you don’t deserve.

Everyone has something they can be thankful for and unfortunately people don’t appreciate it until it is gone. Do you have the breath of life, food to eat, water to drink, freedom to think, the ability to communicate, opportunity to laugh, access to family and friends, resources and talents to share with others, or opportunity to experience beauty? If yes, then you have reason and responsibility to give thanks.

Develop a lifestyle of thanksgiving and cultivate a heart of appreciation by starting and ending your day with thanksgiving and giving thanks before every meal. Look for reasons to show appreciation to others. Set this month apart and replace the vicious cycle of complaining and unhappiness with the virtuous cycle of thanksgiving and happiness.

THE ULTIMATE REASON FOR THANKFULNESS

God is ultimately the one who is responsible for all the good in our life and is deserving of our thankfulness. God gives us vastly more blessing and mercy than we deserve. God is the one who gives us life and every good and perfect gift. He should be the One we thank first and foremost. He even gives us the gift of thankfulness that opens the door for happiness in our lives.

How can we thank God enough for giving us life, loving us, sending Jesus to rescue us from the eternal judgment of sin, forgiving us while we were His enemies, giving us His Holy Spirit to live in us, giving us purpose and meaning, choosing us to work with Him in the greatest mission on earth, and preparing a place for us in heaven? A part of the answer is to thank God sincerely and frequently. Any one of these blessings is enough to warrant hearty thanks and happiness for eternity.

CHOOSE TO BE THANKFUL

The choice is yours, you can be happier if you want to be. Happiness doesn’t have to be based on your circumstances that change from moment to moment, but on eternal truth that does not change. Every time you are tempted to complain, let it be a reminder to replace it with thankfulness. Every time you hear messages of discontent let it trigger gratitude for what you have. We would do well to heed the scripture of 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” God’s will always results in a better and more fulfilling life and I thank God for that.

Todd Pearsons, Ph.D. is a minister with Increase International Christian Church.

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