Smile, You're Rich!
Smile, you're richer than you thinkWith the media full of big diamonds and brand new cars it is easy to take a look around and be disappointed. There is an entire industry designed to show us what we don't have and make us want it enough to go out and buy it. But the truth is that there is always going to be somebody who has something newer, bigger or shinier. Growing up a friend of mine had a great shirt. It said "He who dies with the most toys, still dies." We forget sometimes that even if we did earn a huge house or a six carat pink diamond ring, it wouldn't last. You can't take it with you.
You might be richer than you think
If you ate breakfast this morning you are better off than the 800 million people worldwide who will go hungry today. And don't think that it's just happening in Africa. In the United States 9 million people "frequently skip meals or eat too little, sometimes going without food for a whole day." (Source: bread.org) If you eat three meals today, smile, you're rich!
Choose to look a little closer at the world around you and you'll find that you have a lot to be grateful for. I recently came across a website called The Global Rich List. It lets you type in your salary and then shows you where your wealth ranks on a global scale. The results are pretty eye opening. In the United States, in 1999, a family of four was considered "poor" if their income was $16 813/ year. If you put that figure into the Global Rich List, you'll find that that puts poor Americans among the wealthiest 9% of the entire world. You may think of yourself as poor, but smile, you're rich!
Changing our perspective
The Oxford Dictionary defines gratitude as "readiness to show appreciation for kindness and to return it." Gratitude doesn't mean that we see the world through rose coloured glasses, but rather that choose to see the good things we have blessed with.
We have a very skewed idea of what gratitude actually is. Gratitude is not the same as being happy. Gratitude is taking an honest look at a situation and choosing to say "even in this there is a reason to hope". Gratitude is the willingness to look for a reason to hope. There are going to be days when you can't see anything to be grateful for. Life is not a musical or a Disney movie. But if you practice gratitude, you may find that even on the really, really hard days you can find something.
There is a lot to be grateful for. But even armed with this knowledge some days being grateful is hard work. There are days when you can look out of your window and practically trip over all of the things there are to be grateful for. And there are other days when you have to look really, really hard to find it.
Cultivating a grateful spirit takes time. It takes work and for many of us, it doesn't come naturally.
Practicing gratitude is a lot like exercising - we know we should do it, we know we need to do it and that our lives will be better if we do it, but we have a hard time fitting it into our day. How can you find time to be grateful? What would that look like?
Gandhi once said "we must be the change we want to see in the world." Can we make it so that there is more to be thankful for? Yes, but it has to start with you. If you are looking for a way to put gratitude into practice, consider trying something from this list complied by Women Today writer Sadaf LaalDin:
1. Love your family. (Does anyone need your forgiveness?)
2. Invest time and energy in your children.
3. Expand your borders - invite a neighbour for tea or coffee.
4. Visit an elderly person and listen to their stories of the past.
5. Write an encouraging note to someone feeling disheartened.
6. Go grocery shopping for a family in need.
7. Donate to your local women's shelter.
8. This month, write one letter as part of Amnesty International's efforts to speak out against injustice (Visit www.amnesty.org./actnow/index.html for more information.)
9. Decide how you can join the fight against AIDS.
10. Know you have a unique purpose in the world. Believe you can and will make a difference.
Practicing gratitude can change the way you see everything. It can help you to be satisfied with what you have. It lets you enjoy the people and things in your life. Gratitude can show you that you do have enough to be able to help someone else. You can afford to be generous - you're rich!
Around the holiday season, look for a place to donate - whether it's a can of soup, or an hour of your time find a place to give back this year. The creators of the Global Rich List challenge their readers to donate one hour's wages to a charitable cause. What could your one hour do?
Many soup kitchens put on Thanksgiving dinners that cost a few dollars a person, maybe your hour could buy lunch for a couple of people? Groups like Heifer International provide animals and training to developing nations. If you make $20/hr you could use one hour's pay to buy chickens through Heifer International that will lay eggs to feed a family all year. Do you have 5 friends with $10? You could pool your resources and send trees that can make ravaged land fertile again. The possibilities are endless. Who's world will your hour change?
If you are looking around your world and don't see a lot to be grateful for, there is hope. You can have the peace that you are looking for; there is a way to balance your life. No one can be perfect, or have a perfect life. But every one of us has the opportunity to experience perfect grace through a personal relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ.
You can receive Christ right now by faith through prayer. Praying is simply talking to God. God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart. Here's a suggested prayer:
Lord Jesus, I want to know you personally. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life to you and ask you to come in as my Savior and Lord. Take control of my life. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Make me the kind of woman you want me to be.
If this prayer expresses the desire of your heart, pray it right now and Christ will come into your life as He promised.
If you invited Jesus Christ into your life, thank God often that He is in your life, that He will never leave you (Hebrews 13:5) and that you have eternal life. As you learn more about your relationship with God, and how much He loves you, you'll experience life to the fullest.