Are you truly grateful?

The two cats were fighting. Each had their eyes on a piece of salmon skin and they were playing tug of war over it. What they hadn’t noticed was the piece of salmon I had placed in front of each of them!

They both wanted what the other one had, each had their eyes on the piece of skin and didn’t even realize that there was tender, juicy salmon right in front of them! How much are we like this? We think we need/want/must have something that is not so good, all the while missing the blessing that is right in front of us.

When we remember to bless the LORD for what we have, our focus immediately shifts from wanting and coveting to blessing and thankfulness. In the days leading up to Thanksgiving I posted a “Gratitude Journal.” Each day, I posted one or two things for which I was grateful. I noticed an immediate shift in my level of energy, my focus, and my praises. I was calmer and more peaceful, too.

A few months ago a couple came for counseling. They both had a litany of things that were wrong with each other. It looked very bleak and depressing, and they were even contemplating divorce.

“Wow,” I said, “It sounds as if you two aren’t really well suited at all. How and why did you get together in the first place? Was there anything good or was it always like this?”

They began to reminisce, eager to show me that they weren’t masochists and that they really did have some things in common. After a while, they were smiling and laughing, looking a bit sheepish at how angry and frustrated they both had been.

I gave them a task. They were literally not allowed to say one negative thing to each other for the entire next week. They were to only say positive things. If they had nothing positive to say, they were to remain silent. This meant no nagging, and no complaining.

In addition to the negativity ban, they both had to think of at least one positive thing every day, and they had to say it in positive terms. In other words, they weren’t allowed to say, “I like that you didn’t leave your dirty socks rolled in a ball at the foot of the bed.” Instead, they had to say, “Thank you for putting your dirty clothes in the hamper.” They came back the following week and were back in love. The divorce was off, and they wondered how and why they had ever been so upset in the first place.

This is not rocket science, it is Bible-based thinking. “Whatsoever things are true, just, lovely, and admirable … think of these things!” (Philippians 4:8). Isn’t it great that we have a holiday every year to remind us of these basic and glorious truths?

This article originally appeared on First Fruits of Zion, December 1, 2016, and reposted with permission.