Gratitude

I realized that my last few posts were a touch gloomy. Let’s right the ship today and get back on course.

One of the exercises I try to perform daily is thankfulness. There are way too many things in this life to be disgruntled about. It’s so easy to get caught up in all the things I’m not happy about and completely forget about all the blessings. I think we’re all guilty on some level of taking the good stuff for granted. So today’s message is about being thankful. Below is a cool story of an idea that was presented to me, along with a list of things I’m thankful for. I encourage you to think about your own life as you read this. And maybe the exercise presented is something you can implement.

It was Christmas time, and per tradition, Jamie’s side of the family all congregates in our home for Christmas dinner. So I get to see some of her relatives that I don’t see much throughout the year. I really look forward to it.

I was talking with one her extended family about this blog, mental health, occupational challenges, and ways to stand strong amidst all of it. This person mentioned to me that they were struggling to find joy at work, and so each day a simple exercise was performed. They would arrive early, find the parking spot furthest away from the front door, and commit to thinking and/or saying out loud all of the things they are grateful for on the way across the parking lot into their office.

Wow, what a cool exercise. But since my office is on the other side of my dining room, I wouldn’t be able to get too far with my thoughts of gratitude. So instead, on the freeway to one of our job sites, I decided to hit the voice recorder on my phone and let it run. It forced me to do two things. One, I had to say out loud the things I’m thankful for so my mind wouldn’t wander. And two, the recorder became an imaginary accountability partner that forced me to keep talking.

What I didn’t expect to happen was the flood of emotions that came from recalling all that I’m thankful for. Holy cow! I have it so good! I went 15 minutes rattling off everything, and toward the end, I was actually crying tears of joy.

Have you ever done this? It’s amazing! You should definitely try it.

Below are some of my highlights.

I’m thankful for Jamie. I’m thankful that she survived not one, but two life threatening illnesses during our married life. If a brain tumor or thyroid cancer had taken her, I don’t know what I would do. I’m so thankful she’s still alive.

I’m thankful for Maci. No one will ever know how important she is to our family. I could write a book on it. Maybe I will.

I’m thankful for Max. Max is the reason I’m stronger than I thought I could be. He has shown me more about my relationship with God than I ever imagined. He has caused me to be a better person and see the world through different lenses. See this post.

I’m thankful for our parents. They have modeled marriage well for Jamie and me, even in adversity. They have shown us what true sacrifice looks like by putting their plans on hold to help our family. Countless times they have bent over backwards to make sure we stay healthy. And they have each provided incredible ways to take a break from it all and have fun. And on top of it all, they’ve been incredible role models in how we love our neighbors, both domestic and foreign.

I’m thankful for our friends. Each of them contribute to our lives in their own way. Sometimes we’re hard to be around. Our friends have stood by us through it all.

I’m thankful for the older, wiser leadership that walks alongside us. From pastors to counselors to friends. We have learned so much from you.

I’m thankful for my job. It has provided our family the means to survive. It’s super stressful and carries a lot of baggage with it. But at the end of the day, I’m allowed to own my own company and work in a field that I’m passionate about.

So there’s the short list. I want to encourage you to try this exercise on some level. And if you can, I’d love to hear some feedback.

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