Generally, I have found, the most delightful people I interact with are people who put into practice the attitude of gratitude.
Sometimes it is easiest for us to notice the opposite (the absence), so think of the people you least enjoy spending time with. I would guess they have some characteristics in common: They rarely express gratitude; there are few things in life they express appreciation for; they complain a lot; they are pessimistic; they are resentful of many things; not much makes them happy; they are critical of all things. The underlying problem with such people is the lack of an attitude of gratitude.
An attitude of gratitude turns everything around. Pastor Jack Hinton of New Bern, North Carolina learned a lesson on this while on a short-term mission trip at a leper colony on the island of Tobago. While he was leading worship, there was time for one more song, so he asked if anyone had a request. A woman who had been facing away from the pulpit turned around and raised her hand.
Pastor Hinton recalls, “It was the most hideous face I had ever seen. The woman’s nose and ears were entirely gone. The disease had destroyed her lips as well. She lifted a fingerless hand in the air and asked, ‘Can we sing Count Your Many Blessings?”
Overcome with emotion, Hinton left the service. He was followed by a team member who said, “Jack, I guess you’ll never be able to sing that song again.”
Pastor Hinton replied, “Yes, I will, but I’ll never sing it the same way.”
An attitude of gratitude has the power to turn so much around in our lives!
John Henry Jowett remarks, “Life without thankfulness is devoid of love and passion. Hope without thankfulness is lacking in fine perception. Faith without thankfulness lacks strength and fortitude. Every virtue divorced from thankfulness is maimed and limps along the spiritual road.”
Again considering it from the opposite side: Even amidst the problems and disappointments and letdowns in life, when gratitude is added hope and peace and joy are restored.
Thornton Wilder comments, “We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”
That’s the first part of finding vitality for life, being “conscious of our treasures.” But that’s only the first part. The second part is essential as well: We must express our gratitude, for when gratitude is not expressed it is missing.
Robert Brault observes, “There is no such thing as gratitude unexpressed. If it is unexpressed, it is plain, old-fashioned ingratitude.” William Arthur Ward adds, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”
The practice of gratitude should never be put off until the 4th Thursday of November; it should be practiced throughout the year. For it truly is the practice of gratitude that brings vitality to our lives and turns us into the kinds of people others would enjoy spending time with.
— Tom Tripp is the Pastor at the First Presbyterian Church of Colusa. Pastor Tripp can be reached by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org