“I hate ingratitude more in a man than lying, vainness, blabbing and drunkenness” Shakespeare in Twelfth Night
I am writing this piece from the inspiration I got from a book written by Herbert G Lockyer “Sins of the saints.” When I bought this book three years ago the title caught my attention and it is indeed a blessing to me.
I think about life generally and decided that we are coming to strange times, times or seasons where all we see is grumbling and complaining. In my home I remember at the beginning of every term after I had paid my children’s fees my wife would march them all into the room and say to them we all including herself kneeling down would say “thank you for paying our fees.” That tradition is still true today my older daughter will get an email that I have paid her fees and she will send a mail to thank me. In the same spirit, at the close of every year, I will also take out time to thank my wife for all she has made possible in our lives throughout the year. In fact I remember a year I went to South African for an assignment, and as we returned we had been so busy I didn’t have the opportunity to shop for my wife (something I always did especially as I enjoyed the look on all their faces whenever I returned and they opened the box to collect their gifts). On the flight back to Nigeria I decided to buy stuff on the plane and one of my colleagues who sat with me said you will spend all the money you made buying things and I said am buying for who? My wife, you know what if she had as much as called me from home while I was away to say there id fire on the mountain do you know I will abandon whatever I am doing for the next flight out? So as a sign of gratitude I must get her something great even if it will cost the earth. I must tell you though there is power in speaking out your convictions, all my other colleagues too began to shop for their wives at that point too.
At the beginning of life, there are two simple words we parents teach our children all the time, from when they are able to speak we say whenever they get anything “what do you say?” or “say thank you.” God is our Father, He has put everything including us in this world and I know for some of us church goers we do thanksgiving as fellowship or groups yearly. I however notice with some reservation however that there seems to be a lot of complaining in the world today. If you doubt that let me ask you simply when last you said “Lord thank you for Buhari” or “Thank you for Nigeria.” I hear a few people say there is nothing to thank God for….hmmmm really? For some, our thanks is during our anniversaries and this is only done on social media to get plenty likes that is supposed to boost your self-esteem. Well let me burst your bubbles that esteem will continue to be low until you get your act together.
Some of us have jobs or our own businesses yet we live on grumbling street or whining lane and should move to gratitude terrace or thanksgiving corner where the air and the district are of the best and the rent is no higher. Please take a moment now to “bless the Lord oh my soul and forget not all His benefits” Psalm 103:2.
Gratitude has to do with the state of our minds or what is called a mindset. As Africans we can get so bugged down by things that are not happening or believe that the “enemies/village people” are after us, hunting us, digging a pit for us that we fail to simply “let go and let God” live free believing that He (God) has promised to never leave us nor relax His hold on us.
A mindset is a cluster of thoughts with attached information and emotions that generate a particular perception. Mindsets shape how we see and interact with the world, they can catapult you forward, allowing you to achieve your dreams or put you in reverse drive if you are not careful. We have several types of mindsets: thinker, controlled thinking, words, controlled emotions, forgiveness, happiness etc then we also have the gratitude mindset which is what we are discussing today.
Scientists Prathik Kini et al (2016) studied the effects of gratitude expression on neural activity. They found that participants who participated in a letter writing exercise showed both positive changes in their behavior and greater brain activity in the front of the brain up to three months later. So if we practice gratitude, we will revive the wire for love design of our brain, activating a self-perpetuating cycle of positivity of the mind.
Our choices, determine how we respond to our environment, and the brain reflects this in response: such that the activity of the mind changes the brain structure and function. When we choose to be grateful, we tap into our natural design. Being thankful increases our longevity, our ability to use our imagination and our ability to problem solve. It also improves our overall health.
An attitude of gratitude leads to the feeling that life is worth living, which brings mental health benefits, can lead to resilience and the ability to bounce back quickly from whatever negatives life throws at you. A strong gratitude mindset provides the motivation for people to do things that will give their lives meaning. We are encouraged in the Hymn to “count your blessings, see what God has done and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”
Counting your blessings now makes it easier to recognize them later because your mind will get better and better at the process of building a positive and grateful mindset. This you can do by starting with what I call an attitude journal. The more good you see in your life in the now moments, the happier and more successful you are likely to be in the future.
“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around” Willie Nelson.