Overcoming Depression – Creating an Attitude of Gratitude Part 2

God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one of them to say Thank You? William Arthur WardAs I worked to overcome my severe depression, I found I needed to turn to the Lord daily in my efforts to get better. Through that entire process, He taught me many things. He taught me me to trust in the journey and He taught me the importance of my mindset.

One day, He inspired me with a story that I then wrote down. I call the story The Counters. As I wrote the story, I knew that it was really the Lord that was providing the story to me – not my vivid imagination. When the story was written, I was profoundly affected by the message of the story. I knew the lesson of the story was meant for me.

I am currently working to turn my story into a children’s book so I won’t go into the details of the story, but suffice it to say that being a counter is not a good thing. I realized I was a counter. I counted good events in my life and bad events in my life. I felt it was unfair for the bad to outweigh the good. I took my lesson to heart. I quit being a counter.

“Counters” are so busy counting all of the negatives that they fail to see their blessings. I knew better. I had and still have an incredible amount of blessings to be thankful for. I know that life is not fair. Now, I have learned to quit expecting life to be fair and to focus on the good, positive and amazing blessings of life that the Lord has provided to me.

As you read today’s article, I hope you will take time to reflect on your blessings. What do you have to be grateful for? Then take a second and express a sincere Thank You to someone!:

3 Ways To Develop Gratitude (The Great Healer)

Such an approach, though, eventually imprisons us in the very small world of our own needs, pushing away other people, and closing down the possibility of real growth. We may seek relief in a variety of ways – from the pleasures of physical entertainment, to the call to community service, and the possibilities of peace offered by spiritual practices and religion – but we often find that these tactics don’t provide the relief that we had hoped for, leaving us feeling more apathetic and cynical than before.

How can we escape this downward spiral?

All that ails us and the world, and the cause of all cynicism and apathy, I believe, comes from the lack of one essential factor in our lives: gratitude. The greatest human spirits have recognized that gratitude is the most rewarding and transformational practices that we can undertake. Cicero, the versatile Roman philosopher, stated:

Gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues, but the parent of all the others.

In a similar vein, the thirteenth-century Christian mystic, Meister Eckhart, advised:

If the only prayer you said your whole life was “thank you,” that would suffice.

What exactly is gratitude, though? One definition that I discovered notes that gratitude is “an emotion that involves indebtedness toward another person,” and that this emotion arises when one receives something that meets the following criteria:

• It is valued by the recipient.
• It is costly to the benefactor.
• It is given with positive intention.
• It is given graciously, without any societal or professional obligation.

According to this definition, when these four criteria are met and we allow the emotion to arise, we experience gratitude. The problem with this definition, though, is that it makes gratitude conditional. When one of the criteria is not met – for example, when we don’t value the gift, or when we don’t believe that the gift is costly (monetarily, emotionally, or temporally) to the giver – according to this definition, we are excused from feeling gratitude.

Ethical, religious, and spiritual traditions encourage us to adopt a higher perspective on gratitude. From this point of view, gratitude is something far more profound than a momentary feeling of thanks for a specific valued gift. At its deepest potential, gratitude comes from an existential awareness that our bodies, our minds, our families and friends, the world in all its miraculous diversity, and all that we have are gifts. And that these gifts are given to us unconditionally, in love, at every moment of our lives.

This concept can be very difficult to incorporate because, as noted earlier, we tend to associate gratitude only with the receipt of a gift that we perceive to be valuable. When unwelcome events inevitably happen in our lives – disappointments, illness, conflicts – we naturally feel bitter and can easily believe that there is nothing to be thankful for. Conversely, when we get things that we think we want, we may be tempted to take all the credit, and believe that we have achieved these successes solely based on our own efforts and attributes. True gratitude, however, calls us to feel grateful not only for our successes, but also for our problems, our mistakes, and even for people who treat us unkindly. We can actually feel gratitude for our most difficult struggles, because these are seen as ultimately beneficial in our lives, even if the intention is not always immediately clear to us.

Gratitude can solve all that ails us because when we are truly grateful we immediately rise above our fear-based needs to dominate, control, or retreat in to cynicism. And when we approach people and situations with gratitude we will naturally be drawn to positive action, discovering new possibilities that we could never have imagined in the protective shell of self-isolation. These actions can take many forms, depending on the needs of the other person and the situation in the moment, but will always be beneficial for humanity.

Although gratitude is a feeling, it must be cultivated through action. The following offers several suggestions for developing gratitude:

1. Make a gratitude list: Srikumar Rao, who teaches a hugely popular class at Columbia Business School, and is author of “Are You Ready to Succeed”? recommends that we write a daily list of the things that have occurred for which we are grateful. These do not need to be major events, but can be the little occurrences that we usually ignore – the train arriving on time, good weather, a satisfying meal, a stranger’s warm smile – and the wonderful people and things in our lives that we all to often take for granted – our families, spouses, friends, jobs, homes, health, bodies.

2. Say “Thank you” to others: Stay alert for opportunities to express gratitude to others as often as you can. You will find that even when you are not feeling grateful, simply saying “thank you” will connect you to others, and will have an impact beyond the moment.

3. Develop a daily gratitude prayer: All religious and spiritual traditions stress the essential nature of gratitude, and place it as the bedrock of faith. Within many of these traditions the first prayer that a practitioner says every morning is “I am thankful for having awakened to another day.” This is a prayer of gratitude to our Creator for the very miracle of our lives.

These practices remind us that gratitude is available to us at any moment and under any circumstance, even – or especially – when we are not feeling particularly thankful. Seen from the highest perspective, gratitude is the door that opens to individual and world transformation, revealing our true nature, binding us to each other, and to the Divine.

Today’s article is shared from the following website: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/rabbi-alan-lurie/gratitude-the-great-heale_b_266952.html

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Our Savior Knows our Pains

I belong to a special Facebook group for mothers of adopted and foster children. The children of these mothers come from traumatized backgrounds. As a result, these mothers experience more than their fair share of pain and agony – it is very difficult to raise angry, traumatized children. On an almost daily basis, they seek to deliberately hurt (both physically and emotionally) their mothers or primary caregivers. One of these mother’s, in an attempt to help those in our group, shared this recently. It is a quote by Chieko N. Okazaki and it is profound! We all have our burdens to bear and our difficulties to endure. I hope it will provide you with comfort as it has me!:

“It’s our faith that He experienced everything- absolutely everything. Sometimes we don’t think through the implications of that belief. We talk in great generalities about the sins of all humankind, about the suffering of the entire human family. But we don’t experience pain in generalities. We experience it individually.

That means He knows what it felt like when your mother died of cancer — how it was for your mother, how it still is for you. He knows what it felt like to lose the student body election. He knows that moment when the brakes locked and the car started to skid. He experienced the slave ship sailing from Ghana toward Virginia. He experienced the gas chambers at Dachau. He experienced Napalm in Vietnam. He knows about drug addiction and alcoholism.

Let me go further. There is nothing you have experienced … that He does not also know and recognize. He understands about rape and infertility and abortion. His last recorded words to his disciples were, “And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” He understands your mother-pain when your five-year-old leaves for kindergarten when a bully picks on your fifth-grader when your daughter calls to say that the new baby has Down Syndrome. He knows your mother-rage when a trusted babysitter sexually abuses your two-year-old when someone gives your thirteen-year-old drugs when someone seduces your seventeen-year-old. He knows the pain you live with when you come home to a quiet apartment where the only children are visitors when you hear that your former husband and his new wife were sealed in the temple last week when your fiftieth wedding anniversary rolls around and your husband has been dead for two years. He knows all that. He’s been there. He’s been lower than all that. He’s not waiting for us to be perfect. Perfect people don’t need a Savior. He came to save his people in their imperfections. He is the Lord of the living, and the living make mistakes. He’s not embarrassed by us, angry at us, or shocked. He wants us in our brokenness, in our unhappiness, in our guilt and our grief.” Chieko N. Okazaki

Today’s image was shared from the gospel library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. (lds.org)

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Your Life, God’s Way

God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supplies Hudson Taylor

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

Years ago, my church – Celebration Church in Jacksonville, Florida – rented a billboard near a busy highway. We were looking to attract people to what God was doing in our world. The ad featured an image of me (which made sense because the invitation was coming from the church, and well, I’m the pastor) with these words emblazoned across the ad:

Your Life, God’s Way

Despite the blinding vibrancy of my lime green golf shirt, we got a great response to that billboard. Lots of people visited Celebration for the first time and made it their home. Why? I seriously doubt it was due to my friendly-yet-penetrating gaze as drivers made their daily commute to work each day. No.

What drew people in was that the ad offered a different approach to the one thing everyone is concerned about and probably mulling over on their way to work: my life. Imagine the thoughts of those drivers. It’s not hard because we’ve all had them at one time or another, maybe at this very moment:

  • My life is a mess.
  • My life is going great.
  • My life doesn’t matter.
  • My life is about to change.
  • My life is falling apart.
  • My life has no purpose.
  • My life is too busy.
  • My life is depressing.
  • My life is over-the-top amazing.

The billboard reached all these people behind the wheel – all with different plans, experiences, hopes, disappointments, and so on – and offered them one more lens through which to view their life: God’s way.

Adding these two words has a way of changing our perspective. It forces us to pause and consider that there may be a completely different way of doing life than we are currently doing it, one we may never have considered. I’m sure more than one person drove by that billboard and thought, “God’s way,” huh? What does that look like? It’s gotta be better than the way I’m doing it.

When I first started thinking about my life in terms of God’s way, three life-altering, game-changing realizations came to mind. And speaking now as a pastor, let me add that these apply to anyone.

God has a “way” for our lives. Most people think God is not at all interested in the details of our lives. But he is.

He doesn’t sit in heaven simply watching our lives from the nosebleeds. God wants to be fully involved in your life, and He has a game plan, a path, a way for your life that is designed specifically for you (Psalm 37:23). As you make Him the first priority in your life, you’ll witness firsthand just how much God wants to be present and active in your life. You will experience His presence on a whole new level.

We don’t have to carry the weight of our life alone. Life is challenging, and the cares of life are heavy, but God doesn’t want you to carry the burden alone. Jesus invites you to keep step with Him while He does the heavy lifting (Matthew 11:28). When you put God first, you begin to live in response to Him as He shapes your life. Rather than striving to manipulate and control every outcome under your own strength, you will find that God is standing close, ready to help lighten the load.

God’s way is better than ours.

The Bible says that God’s way is perfect, refreshing, trustworthy, right, and enlightening (Psalm 19:7-8). I don’t know about you, but my way usually isn’t any of those things. Amazingly, God’s way is not only all those things, but it also meets us wherever we are.

When you feel like your life…

  • is a mess, God works all things out for your good (Romans 8:28).
  • is going great, God has greater things in store for you (1 Corinthians 2:9).
  • doesn’t matter, God ascribes incredible value to you (1 Peter 1:18-19).
  • is about to change, he will be with you every step of the way (Hebrews 13:5).
  • is falling apart, God is your strength and deliverer (Psalm 18:1-2).
  • has no purpose, God’s purpose for you will prevail (Jeremiah 29:11).
  • is too busy, God’s peace guards your heart and mind (Philippians 4:7).
  • is depressing, he is the giver of joy (Romans 15:13).
  • is over-the-top amazing, there is a place to direct your gratitude (James 5:13).

God’s way for your life is the best possible way you can live. This is the God-first life. It’s the life God intends you to live.

Today’s article was written by Stovall Weems and is shared from the following website: https://www.faithgateway.com/your-life-gods-way/#.W3Q_gy-ZNmA

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The Greatest Gift is Love

Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to give something back by becoming more Tony RobbinsA woman came out of her house and saw 3 old men with long white beards sitting in her front yard. She did not recognize them.

She said, “I don’t think I know you, but you must be hungry. Please come in and have something to eat.”

“Is the man of the house home?”, they asked.

“No”, she said. “He’s out.”

“Then we cannot come in”, they replied. In the evening when her husband came home, she told him what had happened.

“Go tell them I am home and invite them in!” The woman went out and invited the men in. “We do not go into a House together,” they replied.

“Why is that?” she wanted to know. One of the old men explained: “His name is Wealth,” he said pointing to one of his friends, and said pointing to another one, “He is Success, and I am Love.” Then he added, “Now go in and discuss with your husband which one of us you want in your home.”

The woman went in and told her husband what was said. Her husband was overjoyed. “How nice!!”, he said. “Since that is the case, let us invite Wealth. Let him come and fill our home with wealth!”

His wife disagreed. “My dear, why don’t we invite Success?”

Their daughter-in-law was listening from the other corner of the house. She jumped in with her own suggestion: “Would it not be better to invite Love? Our home will then be filled with love!”

“Let us heed our daughter-in-law’s advice,” said the husband to his wife. “Go out and invite Love to be our guest.”

The woman went out and asked the 3 old men, “Which one of you is Love? Please come in and be our guest.” Love got up and started walking toward the house. The other 2 also got up and followed him. Surprised, the lady asked Wealth and Success: “I only invited Love, Why are you coming in?”

The old men replied together: “If you had invited Wealth or Success, the other two of us would’ve stayed out, but since you invited Love, wherever He goes, we go with him. Wherever there is Love, there is also Wealth and Success!”

Author Unknown

Today’s story was shared from the following website: https://academictips.org/blogs/the-greatest-gift-is-love/

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Use Your Gifts and Talents!

Use your gifts faithfully, and they shall be enlarged; practice what you know, and you shall attain to higher knowledge. Matthew ArnoldDo you recognize that you have gifts? Do you feel in your heart that there are special things you should be doing with those gifts? If so, I hope you will not ignore those feelings in your heart.

If you honestly don’t feel that you have any gifts and/or talents, I hope that you will go to the Lord and ask Him to reveal them to you.

One of the most memorable parts of my near-death experience was seeing how all of us who would be born to this earth had been blessed with a multitude of gifts and talents.

Although we were not given the same talents and gifts and some were given more than others, the most important aspect of those gifts, that I witnessed, was that we honor and use them.

For me, it makes the parable of the talents that is shared in the New Testament even more meaningful. What I saw in heaven supports what is taught in that parable. It doesn’t matter what talents we receive. It matters that we use them and when we do, not only will those talents increase, we will also be provided with additional talents.

It is my witness that the Lord loves us and wants us to use what He has given us. We have all been given talents and gifts that are meant to be developed and used here in mortality.

With the Lord, our gifts do not have to be complicated. They can be as simple as having the gift of listening or as far-reaching as the gift of of inspiring millions. The important thing about gifts is that they are meant to be shared.

If you haven’t already, I hope you will commit to share your gifts with the world!

In that light, I hope you enjoy today’s story!:

Two Intelligent Boys

Once upon a time there were two incredibly intelligent and capable boys. Their wonderful talents were obvious from an early age, and they easily outdid everyone around. They had always known they were special, and they harbored inside them a desire that, in the future, everyone would come to admit how exceptional they were.

Each of them developed in a different way. The first used all his talent and intelligence to have a successful career and show everyone his superiority. He took part in all kinds of competitions, visited all the most important people and places, and was great at making friends in high places. Even when still very young, no one doubted that some day he would be the wisest and most important person in the land.
The second boy, equally aware of his own capabilities, never stopped feeling a heavy responsibility. He would do almost any task better than those around him, and he would feel obliged to help them. This didn’t leave him enough time to follow his own dreams of greatness. He was always busy looking for ways to more effectively help others. As a result, he was a much-loved and well-known person, but only in his own small circle.

Destiny was such that a great disaster struck that land, spreading problems and misery far and wide. The first of those brilliant young men had never come across anything like this, but his brilliant ideas worked successfully throughout the land, and they managed to slightly improve the situation. But the second young man was so used to solving all kinds of problems, and had such useful know-how in certain subjects, that the disaster hardly affected the people in his region at all. His admirable methods were then adopted across the land, and the fame of this good and wise man spread even more than had that of the first young man. Indeed, he was soon elected governor of the whole nation.

The first young man then understood that the greatest fame and wisdom is that which is born from the very things we do in life, from the impact they have on others, and from the need to improve ourselves every day. He never again took part in competitions or vain shows, and from then on, whenever he traveled, he took his books along with him, so he would be ready always to offer a helping hand to all.

Story Written by Pedro Pablo Sacristan

Story shared from the following website: https://freestoriesforkids.com/children/stories-and-tales/two-intelligent-boys

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