When I worked at a Target store for three years before retiring at sixty-two to write full-time, I was impressed by the different attitudes my co-workers displayed. Most of them were acceptably pleasant to the guests (at Target, customers are “guests”). Some were genuinely helpful. Others did what they had to do and no more. Rarely did I see anyone treat a guest unpleasantly.
In short, we had what I’d consider a pretty typical mix of people.
Early in my stint at Target I realized what a difference attitude made. Sure, I could come in each day feeling resentful that–after being downsized from my third professional career after almost nineteen years–I was working on the register to help make ends meet at home. But at least I had a job. And I was earning enough.
And since it was only part-time, I had time to write my first novel. Something I hadn’t expected to be able to do until I retired. Furthermore, I only had to drive a mile to get to work.
So (with a lot of help from the Lord) I managed to display a good attitude most of the time. When other team members complained about this, that, or the other, I listened sympathetically and TRIED not to join in. I’d learned far too late in my previous career that one of my supervisors, who I believed to have been a sympathetic person to complain to about personal problems, was sick and tired of my grousing.
If someone sympathetic couldn’t take my complaining any more, I needed to change. As much as I had to be grateful for, why waste time on serious griping that (apparently) nobody really wanted to listen to?
So I made a practice of looking for the good each day when I got to work. I’m not pretending it was always easy, nor am I claiming I wasn’t far happier getting home than arriving at work. But my life was full of good things if I just made the effort to look at it that way.
I retired from Target seven years ago, but I still like to think of myself as grateful for the good things in my life. And to think that focusing on the good makes me a nicer person to be around.
So what if I have to take medicines for blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, and thyroid problems? At least I’m alive and in what I consider good health. I can get up with a fair amount of enthusiasm most mornings. I can still walk as rapidly as ever. In fact, in many ways my body is functioning just as well as ever.
Can you imagine what I’d be like if I did nothing but complain, though? I don’t want to think about it. I like being nice to other people, and I believe that results largely from the attitude of gratitude I’ve learned to cultivate over the years.
Prayer is said to contain four elements: Adoration; telling God how good He is. Confession; admitting our sins and asking God’s forgiveness. Supplication; praying for needs, ours and other peoples’. And thanks for all the good God provides on a daily basis.
I’ll bet you can guess which is my favorite element of prayer.
Are you a thankful person, even when things aren’t going the way you want? That’s tough. But if you look at the good in your life, it’ll really help to put the bad in perspective. And while you’re at it, why don’t you thank God for the good? As the Bible says, “Every good and perfect gift comes from above.”
Any thoughts on thanksgiving and gratitude? Please share in a comment.
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