“These people seem so happy! They seem so thankful, even though it seems that they have so little to be thankful for.” This is a sentiment that I have frequently heard during my 15 years of introducing North Americans to people in rural El Salvador. While El Salvador does indeed rank very high on the “happiness index” there is something disconcerting about calling impoverished families “happy” and “thankful.” I think something else might be going on here. Could it be that visiting an impoverished community simply shifts our baseline for how we measure happiness and thankfulness?
In the United States, it’s that time of year again; a season of giving thanks for all the blessings that we have been given. However, it seems that our culture tends to give thanks for things that are arguably superficial and certainly “nonessential.” Giving thanks for your new car or this year’s family vacation is important, but maybe it is time to draw a new baseline for thankfulness?
Cultivating a sense of gratitude for the essential elements of life is incredibly important. For example, when was the last time you gave thanks for your eyesight? How about your hearing, your ability to walk, your beating heart, your reasoning mind, or the fact that you have a set of lungs that breathes in the air and turns the oxygen into energy.
Psalm 150:6 says “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” Maybe this could be implying that everything that has breath should praise the Lord for the simple fact that it has breath.
This holiday season I invite you to take some time to pause, to breathe, and to change your baseline of gratitude. Every breath is a gift from God. Every movement of your body is worthy of gratitude. Begin to look at all that is **right** with the world around you.
When we start with the “essential” elements as our baseline for gratitude, our thankfulness becomes limitless.
“How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand...”
Psalm 139:17-18 NIV
There is indeed much to be thankful for.
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