Gratitude is not a competition

Gratitude is not a competition

When you were growing up, did your parents encourage you to eat your green beans "because there are starving kids in China?" When you're going around the room (as an adult now) at the beginning of a meeting or a gathering and the ice breaker is name something you're grateful for, does someone always say they're grateful for a thing because "not everyone has this thing"? Have you heard just about enough sermons that exhort us to be thankful for what we have, which is "so much more than so much of the rest of the world?"

I found myself doing this a lot as an adult--being grateful for things that others didn't have and it bothered me. First, I thought it was because of my inferiority complex: other people deserve these things that I have but I have them so thank you. But then I worked through that (not really in therapy, per my last post; therapy didn't even touch my inferiority complex) and I was still doing this thing where I thanked God for things that I had that other people didn't have. It still bothered me, and I finally figured out why: I had been trained to be grateful for things that other people didn't have because I had them and they didn't. This wasn't right.

I'm not a bandwagon type of person and usually, when the majority of people are doing a thing, I will make sure I do the opposite of that thing, or at least avoid doing the thing everyone's doing. But gratitude is a good bandwagon to get on. Just not the one that says to count your blessings based on what others don't have. It's weird how we say comparison is a good source of misery, the envy/jealousy/ covetousness is a sin, and then encourage people to compare their lives with others to find things they're grateful for. There's no need for it. God rains on the just and the unjust alike and there is always something to be grateful for just on its own whether someone else has that thing or not.

I'm writing this mostly for myself. I have not been the best practicer of gratitude. I have focused a lot on things I don't have - one thing, in particular. And I've found a way to bring it up a lot. While others probably saw that as focusing on the negative (which it was), I was feeling unseen and forgotten. I was worried God had forgotten His promises to me about this particular thing, and I was seeking reassurance that other people believed it was still coming even after such a long time of not seeing anything in that area change. Things still haven't changed in that area, but the only thing that focusing on that does is keep my negativity and pining pinned in place.

I've stopped focusing on not having that thing, and turned toward what I do have in my life - and not comparing that to anyone else. I can be grateful for a warm, safe home and that other people I know also have warm, safe homes (rather than because so many people do not) without pretending like there aren't terrible things in the world. I can be grateful for my health regardless of the status of other people's health without being selfish. I can be grateful for the micro tiger and the micro lion that live with me and provide cuddles, adorable antics, and good laughs every day regardless of anyone else has magisterial snowbeasts/clumsy little gymnast ninjas that wake up them up at 4:30 in the morning or not.

(Though if not, you're really missing out!).