Here is a great blog written by my wonderful wife Amanda Paben.
Believe it or not, but the rush of the holidays is quickly approaching. Holiday decorations are out in full force in local stores. My Instagram feed shows people already setting up their Christmas trees and listening to Christmas music, and the commercials on television boast of the newest gadget that your loved one just has to have. The Christmas season is filled with stress, rushing, and greed—a picture of commercialism at its finest. I wonder if we have forgotten what it means to be thankful.
The current generation of children and adolescents in the United States have been called the entitlement generation on more than one occasion—the no one tells me “no” and “I deserve this” kids. While I love the Christmas season, entitlement seems to be even more prevalent this time of the year and sometimes makes me want to cringe. I can already hear the “I need this”, “I want that”, “where’s my next present?” and “that’s all I’m getting?” statements. Rather than dreading the increased prevalence of entitlement, my challenge to you (and for myself) is to develop an attitude of gratitude during these upcoming weeks. Would it not be a gift to go into the holiday season knowing that your children are thankful for what they do have rather than focused on what they do not have?
Gratitude is defined as the state of being thankful, the recognition and appreciation of good things in life. The benefits of living a grateful life are numerous. Studies have proven that gratitude improves life quality and satisfaction. People who are more grateful reported being more satisfied with day-to-day life. Research has also shown there to be a connection between gratitude and a person’s level of happiness. (Check out some of the studies by Robert Emmons or Martin Seligman if you are looking for more technical reading on the connection between gratitude and mental health.) Gratitude and entitlement have an inverse relationship. There is little need for gratitude when a person is solely focused on what they deserve. Entitlement diminishes the need for gratitude. If we live in a world where entitlement seems to be so prevalent, the development of an attitude of gratitude just might be a solution to pursue.
The state of being thankful can be hard, especially during difficult life circumstances or during this upcoming season where there are increased levels of entitlement. Developing an attitude of gratitude requires conscious awareness of how one thinks. It is easy to get caught in a negative mindset and focus on the things that go wrong during the day or what one does not have, so here are a few simples ideas about ways to cultivate an attitude of gratitude for adults and children alike. Give these suggestions a try for two weeks and see if your life outlook changes. Children whose parents demonstrate an attitude of gratitude are much more likely to have their own attitude of gratitude, so use these next few weeks as a time to develop attitudes of gratitude together.
Sometimes prayers can feel like a long shopping list of needs. Take the time to thank God for the blessings you have been given and ask for the grace to see things through a lens of gratitude daily. The good gifts we have been given in this life are from a gracious God who chooses to bless His children.
Colossians 3:15-17 “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
I am embracing the challenge. Are you?
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