“I have learned in whatever situation I am in to be… discontent.”
Hmm, did I quote that correctly?
Have you noticed that people today seem more dissatisfied than ever? Despite more conveniences than ever, many seem to be more depressed, dissatisfied, and displeased than ever.
If we’re promised the Peace of Christ, then why are even believers so often discontented, disgruntled and dissatisfied?
I don’t know all of the answers to this, of course, but I do have a theory.
Marketers saturate us with the message that we deserve more and absolutely must have the latest gadget to be ok.
So, rather than appreciate the modern conveniences and technology that make life easier, we expect them and lose our cool when one of them fails.
It’s as if we have learned in every situation to be discontent!
However, there is a simple cure to all of this dissatisfaction: gratitude.
Count your many blessings, name them one by one! In the words of Colossians 3:15, “Be Thankful!”
The Bible teaches gratitude. Science recognizes the value of it, too.
In one study, participants assigned the task of listing all of things they were thankful for on a regular basis reported a greater sense of emotional well-being and even their relationships improved!1
In another study, teens participated in writing letters of gratitude to someone they knew and whom they had never properly thanked. Those teens experienced increased positive emotions that still showed up two months later!2
I have not gotten to the place Paul did when he said: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:12-13).
However, I have moved closer by focusing on what I have rather than what I don’t have.
So, here is my continuing challenge to myself and I offer it to you as well: make a gratitude list of everything you are thankful for. Tell God all the things you are thankful for. Then find someone else to whom you can express appreciation and thankfulness to. Repeat this practice regularly.
Then see how your mood lifts and your attitude rises!
1Emmons, Robert A., and Michael E. McCullough. "Counting blessings versus burdens: an experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life." Journal of personality and social psychology 84.2 (2003): 377.
2Froh, Jeffrey J., et al. "Who benefits the most from a gratitude intervention in children and adolescents? Examining positive affect as a moderator." The Journal of Positive Psychology 4.5 (2009): 408-422.