Counting Your Blessings Leads to Contentment

How often do you stop during your day and count your blessings? If you are like me, not often enough. I leave my home in the mornings, get in my car and head out for my full time job. Those three things alone (home, car, and job) are enough to be thankful for the way things are going these days.

For some reason, most of us choose to spend our valuable time griping about what we don’t have, rather than being thankful for what we do have. This lack of contentment drives us in a never ending search for bigger homes, nicer cars and a higher-paying job.

Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with a little ambition. It is perfectly acceptable to strive for a nicer place in life, but it should not be the driving focus of your life. Your current circumstances should not give you an inferiority complex. After all, most of us have probably all been in the same place at some point in our lives.

A while back I wrote about how blessed we were to have a home. I mean truly blessed. I have started looking differently at our home these last few months. When the nights were cold, I was thankful for a warm shelter for my wife and kids. During April showers and thunderstorms, I was reminded how nice it is to have a safe, dry sanctuary from the storms. And with so many losing their homes, or forced to move from rentals, I’m grateful to have a permanent spot to call home.

I Could Be Walking

I feel the same way about my vehicle – a high-mileage, ten year-old SUV that’s just recently started showing some wear. Is it my dream car? No (that would be the new Chevy Silverado – yes, my name is Jason and I have truck fever). Does it get me to and from work safely? Yes. Is there enough seating room for both kids? Does it have cool air conditioning and a nice radio? Yes.

That’s much more than I can say about my last vehicle – a twenty year-old van with a weak AC, no radio, and only two seats (making it impossible to take both kids anywhere). And consider, I could be walking.

“I’m Starving!”

Even routine things like eating a meal provide opportunities to count our blessings. Sure, we can bow our heads and run through a memorized blessing before taking a bite, but how often do we really stop and think about how lucky we are to have that food in front of us? I mean, how many of us have actually known real hunger?

I don’t mean “it’s almost 8:00 and I haven’t eaten since lunch” hunger. I mean real hunger. Like “I haven’t had a bite to eat since Sunday, and that was only a bit of rice” hunger.

Think of all it took to harvest the food you eat, ship it to market, provide you with the means to pay for it, prepare it and deliver it to your dinner plate. It’s a complex process, and our abundance of choice and quantity makes us all truly blessed.

Yet, rather than be grateful for having something to fill our growling bellies, how often do we complain about the taste, the price, the quantity, the doneness, etc, etc?

The bottom line is that it is good practice to get in the habit of counting your blessings. Over the past few months I have started applying this type of thinking to my everyday purchases and interactions with money.

Are You Better Off Than Your Parents or Grandparents?

I often compare my situation to that of my parents and grandparents, who lived quite happily on much less than I do. When I bought a new pair of shoes recently I was reminded that my grandfather often went barefoot in the summer because his folks couldn’t afford shoes for all the kids. This was the rural south in the Depression – even shoes were a luxury in the summer, and often the early winter, too.

When I bought my first home at 32 years-old I felt old for a first-timer, until I remembered my mom didn’t own her first home until she was nearly 50, and only got to enjoy it for a few years before passing away at 54.

When I was commiserating with a friend about finishing his degree online, and remembering how I toiled to finish my own degree as a non-traditional student, it occured to me that I was the first college graduate in my immediate family, but not by choice. I was the first to have the opportunity to finish school.

So the next time you complain about a meal, or long for a designer purse, or are envious of your neighbor’s new Mercedes, just remember all you have to be thankful for – count your blessings.

*This article was included in the Carnival of Money Stories 2 #57 at My Journey to Millions

Comments

  1. I love this article! As someone who has had a very trying couple of years, it took these struggles for me to REALLY count my blessings. Having more “stuff” doesn’t mean anything in the long run – it means so much more to your family and good friends. I’ve learned (after losing a lot), that stuff doesn’t make your life more fulfilled – its having the love of a partner, children and friends that makes life worthwhile! We can all live with so much less than we do. I, for one, have learned that the hard way – BUT, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Its these life lessons that make us stronger and help us put our priorities in order. Thanks again for this great post and reminder to those who haven’t learned those lessons yet!

  2. Thank you for sharing your gratitude with your readers. It reminds us to be grateful because when we look at the big picture, most of us are truly blessed. Being able to have Internet access alone is more than most have, so again, thanks!

  3. Gratitude, not Attitude !
    and
    Always Always Look for the Positive :)

    Just waking up alive every morning is a blessing!
    The rest after that, is Gravy, as they say !!!!!

    GREAT POST!!!!

  4. VERY TRUE!!! We have so much as Americans. Yes someone else will always have more, but for most people our basic needs are met. Most of the times better than just met, we only NEED a roof over our heads, but we often have a nicer home to live in than a shack. Thanks for the reminder! It helps us remember all the blessings God has given us!

  5. Great article. I think we all need a reminder to be thankful and full of gratitude for all that we have! As you stated, a great way to do this is to think about where you could be, and what state you could be in.

  6. For the last 6 months I’ve made it a point to appreciate at least 3 things in my life every day. Most of the time these 3 things end up being my husband, my social group (friends and family), and financial stability.

    I also am thankful for a billion other things, but life is just easier when you can afford the basics and enjoy other people’s company.

  7. Thank you for a great post. It’s a good thing to get a little smack of a reminder now and then so that we can stop what we are doing and think about how lucky we really are. We are so quick to complain when things are not going our way but how many of us are really appreciative as to when they are.

  8. It’s really great to see this here.
    You won’t belive it, but I’ve been running into these types of posts and websites for a couple of weeks now. I guess somebody is trying to tell me to appreciate what I have more often.
    Which I have started doing. I’m tracking the things I ma grateful for at begr8ful.com . Couple of Zen brothers from New Brunswick Canada set it up a little while ago. Again… one of those sites I stumbled across that I think is telling me something.

  9. I love this one: Are You Better Off Than Your Parents or Grandparents? Growing up my dad has always said, “I just want you kids to have a better life growing up than I did.” Made us appreciate braces, college education, cars and new clothes so much more.

    Thanks for sharing and reminding us all to count our blessings more.

  10. Great article. Just what I needed today as I sit here waiting for word of the impending birth of my 4th grandchild! I am counting blessings!!!!!!!

  11. Loved the article ! However, if I stopped to compare myself to my grandparents or parents they had things way better than I did. Thru no fault of my own. You see my folks had money (given to them from their folks, my Dad drank and made a mess of it all ) I swore when I was only 10 and homeless I would do better by my children. So my kids had shoes I did not. My kids had good food(food that did not make them sick)my kids both have been put thru college and so too I did put their dad thru as well. I am homeless and have nothing but I still count my blessings my children had and do have better than I did. So no I don’t dream of a nicer car, any car would be great. I don’t dream of a nicer house, any roof over my head would be fine. Food I do seem to manage fine there are so many charities that give to those in need. So for this too I am counting my blessings! I paid for three college educations and I have none.

  12. Don’t forget infrastructure. We have wonderful roads, sewers, schools, hospitals, fireman, garbage dumps and wastewater treatment plants.

    And two thumbs up for safety. I’m happy I no longer live in the hood riddled with gangs and drugs… or worse, living in a war torn country where you’re very survival is at risk.

    We have scholarships for the poor. We have food pantries, homeless shelters, welfare coupons and countless other charities to help those in need. Even when you’re extremely down on your luck, there are still many places you can turn.

    I think everyone should take a trip to a developing country at least once in their lives to see how the majority of the world really lives. Many people face daily issues of basic survival that never even enters our mind.

    I’m sure at least 6 Billion of the 6.8B world population would trade places with any one of us in a heartbeat.

  13. Ironically, I’m not doing as well as my parents nor grandparents. But both groups had small businesses that my salaried position can’t compete with. Still, compared to the averages, I’m doing okay…

    Great message, instead of worrying about the Jones, take a moment to reflect on what you have and more importantly, what you have accomplished!

  14. I do count my blessings, very regularly, and I’m happy with my life, but no, I’m not doing as well as my parents.
    I even think many of my generation (I’m 38) will not. My parents never heard of unemployment, my generation has.

  15. Gregorius, I think the same will be true for those slightly younger than you as well. I’m 29 and see how hard it is for those my age just finishing up advanced degrees, and our younger siblings in their early 20s just finishing up bachelor’s degrees to get their foot in the door anywhere (and many with considerable debt to boot). There are just too many experienced, unemployed professionals out there looking for work. At the moment, I’m mostly grateful that my parents have been generous enough to take us in while we’re under-employed (but of course, ashamed it has come to this).

  16. My favorite “gratitude” reminder often occurs when doing dishes. We don’t have a dishwasher and sometimes, after cooking batches of stuff, I’m tired and facing all the dishes is daunting.

    But…I stop and remind myself how lucky I am because all those dishes represent the bounty of food we have. No dishes, no food. Lots of dishes, lots of food. TYG

    The same thing with laundry. Works every time.

    There’s always something to be grateful for. Some days, for some people, it may be as simple as the sun shining on your face and the air swirling around you (how many people in prison, nursing homes, ALFs, hospitals would love to be able to get outside to experience that and can’t? Lots). Some days it’s living in a building with an elevator that works, and your water is on and hot. And there are no critters running around.

    Gratitude is tricky when our minds get stuck in the tough challenges that many many people face these days. In reality, one can be very grateful and appreciative and not take anything for granted…and still have a tough time getting through the day. They aren’t mutually exclusive. It’s not either/or, as we come to realize that even in one breath we say “thank you” while in the next we are less grateful.

    Gratitude doesn’t take away some types of pain, but it allows us to shift focus and even momentarily regroup. And to remember and celebrate. Sometimes the simple act of saying “thank you” to God or the universe for something/someone is enough to bring us back to center.

    Personally, people who are always happy, happy, happy and “grateful” are more difficult to deal with than those folks who are going thru tough times and just having a really tough time “being” in their lives. If you’re grateful, you don’t really need everyone else to be.

    And even being “negative” (whatever that really means since it’s usually someone else labeling another, who often sees things differently) can be a form of gratitude even as one says: Things can be better and should be. A lot of positive change in the world starts with the unhappiness and frustration and pain of those whose world doesn’t “work” I am grateful for those folks. too, because often they are the ones who say “the emperor has no clothes” and then create needed change and improvements.

  17. I loved this post. As the thunderstorms hit in our area last night I was reminded of all of those currently living in Haiti tent cities-during the rain season, and thanked God for the shelter and comfort of my home, and for peace for those without.

  18. Both my parents and grandparents did very well. We chose a life of service and did not do as well financially, but would not trade it for their wealth any day.
    We are fortunate to have raised our children in the US. For that is the gift that my great grandparents gave us that we will always appreciate!

  19. I’ve found the best antidote for being a spoiled American and always wanting more is tracing my genealogy and learning what my ancestors had to go through to give me this pampered lifestyle.

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