Why not cultivate a new attitude?
Articles flood our inboxes at this time of year about losing weight after Christmas. We are also encouraged to think about New Year's resolutions. These may include behaviour patterns we want to change, habits we want to be free of or even new adventures in the job world or further afield that we are told to stop dreaming about and go for.
While all of those things can be helpful, I want to look at something really simple that can truly make a difference to your everyday life. I was challenged to do this last New Year and it has stuck with me.
It's all about cultivating a different attitude, which helps you to see the world and your own particular circumstances from a different perspective.
It's something we teach our kids to do as soon as they are old enough to talk. It's learning to say thanks.
There, I've said it. I'm sure it hasn't rocked your world but take a minute to think about what it actually means.
At a young mums' group I was a part of at the time, the leader challenged us to keep a thankfulness diary and, every day, to write five things in it that we were thankful for. We were told it could be the same five over and over again in a week, but that we needed to keep it to five.
Not many people actually followed through on the challenge. But those of us who did (albeit a little later than January) found that it had an amazing effect. Because it is hard to be grumpy and thankful at the same time! Hard to be angry with someone and thankful that God brought them into your life too...
In the Bible we are told to: 'Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you' (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
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Wow – that means we are to be thankful even if our boss is being overdemanding, if our spouse or flatmate is being unreasonable, if our children are pushing every button we have.
Can we really be thankful whatever our circumstances?
The end of 2013 included a celebration of a life well lived. Nelson Mandela kept his heart tender and forgiving through 27 years of imprisonment. He was a great example to us all of how to keep your passions at the centre of your life and not allow external things to dull them.
If we, as Christians, truly believe God to be our greatest passion, and His will is that we are thankful in absolutely every situation and circumstance, shouldn't we be taking that seriously?
I know that some of you that are reading this will have faced, or are facing, situations far beyond what I have had to bear. I cannot imagine what each person is going through – but I do know that when I have made the conscious effort to wake up in the morning and thank God for my breath, thank Him for my family, for my coming day, for His presence with me and His guiding hand, then I have gone into the day well equipped with an attitude that helps me see things more His way, rather than my own.
God implores us in His Word to be thankful – so go on, try it!