Scripture: Matthew 22:37, 38; Romans 12:1; Ephesians 2:8, 9; 5:2; Colossians 3:13; 2 Timothy 1:9; 1 John 4:10.
It’s a common rhetorical question: “Is the glass half-empty or half-full?” The answer supposedly reveals whether a person is an optimist (seeing the glass half-full), or a pessimist (seeing the glass as half-empty).
According to author and speaker Dr. Margaret Paul, we can make a deliberate effort to choose how we look at life. She believes that happiness is a result of gratitude. And she believes that there is always something to be grateful about—that we can choose to be grateful for big and little things in life, each and every moment. The more we choose to notice the good and beautiful, the happier and more peaceful we will feel. She lists the following examples:
--You can be grateful that you are alive and have opportunities to learn and grow and share love.
--You can be grateful for the sun, the rain, the snow, the beauty of nature, the green of grass, the glory of trees, the color of flowers, the presence of animals, the food you eat.
--You can be grateful that you have a computer on which to read this article.
--If you have health, you can be grateful for that.
--If you have friends, you can be grateful for them.
--If you have a mate, children, a home, a car, a job, you can be grateful for them.
Dr. Paul is quick to add that on the other hand, if you choose to look at the bad in life, there are always things to complain about. And the more you complain, the more unhappy you will feel. She lists these following examples:
--Instead of noticing the beauty of the flowers, you can complain about having to water them.
--Instead of being grateful for the opportunity to be alive, you can complain about how hard it is.
--Instead of being grateful for the sun, the rain, or the snow, you can complain about how hot it is, how wet it is, how gloomy it is, or how cold it is.
--Instead of being grateful for you food you eat, you can complain about how hard it is to cook it, or how expensive it is to buy it.
--Instead of being grateful for your health, you can complain about your weight.
--Instead of being grateful for your partner or your children, you can certainly find endless complains about them.
Dr. Paul concludes, “The really great thing is that, given that we are beings of free will, we get to choose who we want to be, each and every moment!”1
Today begins a new quarter as we learn about “Health and Healing.” And there’s no better place to start than to study the effects our thinking has on our health—spiritual, emotional and physical health.
It’s easy to be grateful and praise God when our prayers are being answered and life is good. That’s no test. The real test comes during hard times. Will we praise God in spite of, and in the middle of, hard times?
It’s during these times that we must choose what to dwell on. Although it's not healthy to “stuff” our feelings and never talk about them, to dwell on them endlessly can only do us harm. During hard times we need to remember everything we have to be grateful for--God’s plan to save us, God’s grace alone that saves us, forgiveness from sin, heaven being prepared for us, life after death--just to name a few.
Between here and heaven there will certainly be plenty to complain about. But if we keep choosing to look for the good, we’ll discover that God has blessed us with more than we realize.