Saturday, February 12, 2011
Gratefulness in the home....
Young people (and not so young people) often imagine that a cynical, blasé demeanor makes them seem more sophisticated and mature. In fact, one of the definitions given for the word blasé in the Free Dictionary
is very sophisticated.
I suppose this phenomenon has been going on for generations -- perhaps even back to Adam and Eve's progeny. There's always a set of young people who don't want to appear naive, and so they affect a cool disdain for everything and everyone they imagine falls short of their crowd's tastes and beliefs. If indulged in, this can form a habit of complaining, rather than being grateful.
In truth, not only is gratitude a godly virtue, it earns more respect from others than complaints and disdain do. A sign of maturity is to be able to find something to appreciate in every person and in every circumstance. That's not to say that we always agree with others or that we are happy about every situation in our lives. There is a time to respectfully stand for our beliefs, even if it means hurting someone's feelings or losing their good opinion of us. Even in that, however, we can wish the best for those with whom we must disagree. We can choose to be gracious, rather than to be bitter. By the same token, we can look for the good even in hard times, and we can maintain our peace, as the well-known prayer says, by doing what we can to change what we can and accepting what we can't.
Consider what sages and celebrities have said about gratitude:
"Gratitude is the sign of noble souls", said Aesop.
Epictetus puts it this way: "He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has."
Writer A. J. Cronin said, "Gratitude is something of which none of us can give too much.
For on the smiles, the thanks we give, our little gestures of appreciation,
our neighbors build their philosophy of life."
Elsie DeWolf, style maven of the early twentieth century, used to embroider pillows with the motto, "Never complain; never explain". This saying, which has been attributed to a number of sources, has inspired several historical figures to avoid complaining and making excuses.
Audrey Hepburn, who was known for her graciousness to others and her uncomplaining attitude said, "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived,
reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone."
"I firmly believe that in every situation, no matter how difficult, God extends grace greater than the hardship, and strength and peace of mind that can lead us to a place higher than where we were before," said Andy Griffith
Actress Renee Zellweger says, ""I'm very blessed with people who will go great distance out of their way to help not just me, but other people in their lives. I think that's a huge blessing."
Actor Michael J. Fox maintains gratitude in site of his battle with Parkinson's disease. "I wake up curious every day and every day I'm surprised by something. And if I can just recognize that surprise every day and say, "Oh, that's a new thing, that's a new gift that I got today that I didn't even know about yesterday," it keeps me going. It keeps me more than going. It keeps me enthusiastic and grateful."
Football analyst Michael Strahen says he is grateful for "life, family, and health."
These are just a smattering of notable people, past and present, who have publicly expressed gratitude. Of course, we don't look to people for our standard, but to God. However, those in their formative years do well to remember that there are many examples that prove real maturity and style isn't about complaining, but about looking to the best in life.