We’ve just witnessed the ugliest presidential race that I can recall. Despite talk about “reaching across the aisle,” things are still contentious, leaving us to wonder how they’ll ever make progress. We’re bombarded with news of the chaos and darkness of the economy, global financial markets, and the wackiness we call Washington. To say it can be depressing and paralyzing is an understatement. That’s why today I want to write about one of the things I believe is the most vital elements in our quest for financial peace: giving thanks.
Excessive pessimism can be damaging to our finances, just as much as Greenspan’s infamous irrational exuberance. I’m not saying there isn’t a lot out there to be pessimistic about, but letting that negativity take over can keep us from fighting, from pushing forward, from taking risks we may need to take to succeed. Focusing on the enormity of problems can sap us of drive and determination to keep going. Having a “what’s the use” attitude can lead to reckless spending that further destroys our wealth. Gratitude is the perfect antidote. Not a Pollyanna denial of the facts, but rather an intentional declaration that yes, things are bad, but I still have so much to be thankful for, and that is where I choose to focus my energy. In the wise words of Madame Blueberry, “A thankful heart is a happy heart.”
When it comes right down to it, can you do anything about the fiscal cliff or the price of gas? If we are facing global collapse, can you stop it? I sure can’t. But I can control how I react to these things and the circumstances of my life, to make the best of what has been entrusted to me here on earth, including my attitude. Oh, it’s easy for me to say that here; it’s another story to live that out in my life.
When my daughter first got sick with disabling migraines, being frustrated came much easier than being thankful. Desperate for some wise advice, I turned to our pastor who very patiently and plainly reminded me that I need to be grateful for small things each day while waiting for resolution. Did she get out of bed today? Then give thanks for that. I’ll be honest, I was pretty annoyed with that advice at the time; I was looking for some magic verse or secret pastor prayer that would fix it all lickety split. But he was exactly right. It may not have brought health right away, but it certainly helped me see and appreciate the good along the way, and better cope (not perfectly by any means, but better). I would need that advice even more as time went on, because she got much worse and the days she was able to get out of bed became rare. We rejoice and thank the good Lord today that she is well enough now to go to college and have a part time job; something that was unimaginable six months ago. I am so thankful to see her smile and I hope I never take that beautiful sight for granted.
If you’re facing trials today, I encourage you too, to be thankful for the littlest things- for waking up in the morning, for breath, for life around us, for a sunrise, for a child’s laugh. Life is hard; it’s draining and it’s challenging. But it’s also full of beauty and blessings everywhere we look, if we look close enough. Don’t let your troubles steal your spirit too. That’s yours for keeps.
I wish you and your family a blessed Thanksgiving. May your heart and home be filled with love and gratitude. My challenge for you and for me is to ever be thankful and giving.
What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? I’d love to hear about it.