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THE REGULARS: Thankfulness: A virtue that yields blessings

November 18, 2018

Sioux City Journal opinion page columnist Linda Holub is shown Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2016. Sioux City Journal photo by Tim Hynds

The aroma of Thanksgiving is in the air. Because this is Thanksgiving week, it seemed appropriate to focus on our blessings. There are huge benefits to having an attitude of thankfulness. There is an aura around people who feel grateful and that attitude is contagious. What do you have to be grateful for?

Living in America should be close to the top of the list. America is the greatest country to ever exist on this earth because of the generous nature of its people. Our founding fathers had faith in our Creator God who they believed was active in the world. They knew inherently that what kept Americans good was belief in a benevolent God whose example we choose to follow. Our Constitution, which encompasses the Bill of Rights with the freedoms of religion, speech, right of assembly, freedom of the press and freedom to petition the government for redress of grievances is the envy of the world. William Gladstone, prime minister of the United Kingdom in the 1880s, stated the U. S. Constitution is “the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.” (“The Heritage Guide to the Constitution”) This country is a beacon of hope for the world and that is why people are clamoring to get in.

Choosing a positive attitude is something that requires discipline of thought and intentionality. How different would our view of life be if we took the time to focus on the things that are going well in our life rather than the obstacles and struggles we are experiencing?

Realistically, if we took a 30,000-foot aerial view of our lives, we would see that we are either currently in a struggle, have just come out of a difficult time or are about to go into a new season of difficulty. Jesus told us in John 16:33b, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (NIV) It is a fantasy to believe we will ever arrive at a point in life here on earth when troubles will be a thing of the past. With that reality, it behooves us to find a way to adapt our view of life by finding the moments of joy in the midst of difficulties.

In my coaching profession, I often recommend a gratitude journal to clients who seem to be stuck in a negative thought pattern. It is amazing how that simple exercise can reframe a person’s life experience. We often overlook the moments of good that happen in our very busy lives because we are moving too fast and, consequently, it is a challenge to recall those good moments at the end of a day.

Here are some questions that may stimulate your thoughts to discern whether something positive happened today. Did someone give you a compliment at just the right time when you needed it because you were feeling unappreciated or your efforts seem to go unnoticed? Did someone show you kindness when you least expected it? Did a plan come together that had been dragging your mood down for weeks? Did the most contentious person in your sphere of influence suddenly become cooperative at an important juncture in your work environment? Thankfulness requires effort to remember and savor those positive experiences.

Something that enhances thankfulness is to revisit difficult times and identify what good may have come out of that experience. The biggest regrets can come from the fact we did not learn from seasons of pain and financial or personal struggles.

I challenge you during this Thanksgiving week to nurture an attitude of thankfulness and gratitude for the things God has provided for you and your family, beginning with life and the privilege of living in America.

An anonymous poem gives guidance on thankfulness:

• Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire. If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

• Be thankful for the difficult times. During those times you grow.

• Be thankful for your mistakes. They will teach you valuable lessons.

• Be thankful for each new challenge, because it will build your strength and character.

• It’s easy to be thankful for the good things. A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are also thankful for the setbacks.

• Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.

“Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)

Linda Holub, of Dakota Dunes, S.D., has lived in the Sioux City metro area for more than 40 years. She and her husband, Dave, have four adult children. A certified life coach professional with a master of arts degree from Liberty University in Human Services, Counseling: Life Coaching, Holub is co-chair of the Siouxland Coalition Against Human Trafficking.

Next week: Katie Colling

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