That Stinking Thinking

Wizard, the dog
“I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers.”
  Philemon 1:4

While normally a fairly upbeat person, I could probably be accused of suffering from “Stinking Thinking” recently. Stress? Perhaps. Or it could just be the fact that it’s May. May is filled with landmine anniversaries for me and is often an emotional month.

This year a book called “The Gratitude Diaries” by Janice Kaplan was included in a monthly box of goodies that I treat myself to. In a moment born more of boredom than actual interest, I picked it up and began to read. I nearly put it back down unread when one of the first chapters was “Falling (Back) in Love with My Husband” and then the next one was “Raising Grateful Kids”. Having neither a husband nor kids, I wasn’t sure how much I could really get out of this book. In fact, at this point, I don’t have much immediate family at all.

But, I was bored and the book was in hand, so I read on.

The book was not filled with new and earth shattering information, but I was reminded of the role our gratitude in life plays in our attitude about our life. I knew that, of course. We all know that. But sometimes I forget. Lately it’s been all too easy for all of us to forget that bit of information.

Often we don’t have a choice about what happens in the world around us, but we always have a choice of how we react.

Sometimes the appropriate response to something is sadness or anger. I would feel disingenuous if I didn’t acknowledge that. We should be sad when someone dies. We should be angry when someone is treated unjustly.

Fortunately, most of the time what happens in our daily lives is something less than that.

But there are plenty of annoyances happening to us every day. If we let them, those can become all we notice.

But that isn’t really a true picture of our lives. There are things to be grateful for happening to us everyday too. I began to wonder what would happen if I were to intentionally look for those moments of gratitude present but not always noticed.

I got to try that in the middle of the night recently. I took Wizard and Nellie out into the back yard for their pre-bed constitutional. While Nellie came back to the house quickly Wizard dilly dallied a bit longer and before I realized it had made his way into the front yard. I wasn’t too concerned until I discovered that unbeknownst to me when UPS had made a delivery earlier the driver had not closed the yard gate. Wizard found it before I did and went off on a walk about the neighborhood.

After I drove up and down the street a couple of times he finally came to the car and I was able to lure him into the car with treats. (Wizard will do a lot of things for treats!)

After I had him safely secured in his kennel in the house I realized I had a choice. I could be peeved at the delivery person for leaving the gate open and at Wizard for taking off OR I could be grateful for a good outcome.

I opted for the latter. I discovered that I was able to settle down and go to sleep a lot quicker than if I had concentrated on what had made me unhappy.

The author of the book discovered that by paying attention to the positive and reacting to those around her with honest expressions of appreciation the response back was one of mutual gratitude.

Society has said for a long time that we need to change – there needs to be a return to a more positive world. Well, we can’t change society, but we can change us and since we’re a part of society who knows what changing us may lead to?

We may not be curing cancer by being grateful, but we just might find ourselves happier and more at peace and looking forward with more hope.

What is one thing that happened yesterday that you’re grateful for? It doesn’t have to be a big thing. Did you hit all green lights on your commute? Did the sun come up? Did a flower bloom? For me, it was a good laugh with some of my church members at something silly I did. It’s good to be able to laugh at yourself.

God is good and each day good things are placed in our way. Pay attention. Perhaps start a “Gratitude Journal” and write down at least one thing you are grateful for each day. (You can even put down more!) If journaling isn’t your thing, at least take a moment before you go to sleep to recognize where something to be grateful for has crept into your life this day. You will soon be seeing things to be grateful for all over the place!

Let us pray...

Lord, thank you for putting good things in our world. Help us open our eyes to see them and our hearts to recognize them and our mouths to acknowledge them. Amen.

Tammy Heimgartner

Tammy Heimgartner

ELCA Pastor
Grace Lutheran Church, Mountain Home, ID

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Connie

    Thank you for that simple reminder.

  2. Penelope

    Trinity is doing a “Facebook Challenge” around gratitude. I’m reading “The Book of Joy” by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. And now your meditation on Stinking Thinking. Evidently the message about a gratitude perspective is something that I really need to hear right now!

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