Re-post: Are You Looking Through the Wrong End of the Telescope?

Give thanks -- in all things

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”- G.K. Chesterton

If you’re living in the US, or if you’re a citizen of the US, a very happy Thanksgiving to you! Before we begin today, please take a moment to watch the following video featuring comedian Louis C.K.

I absolutely love the point he is making here — namely, everything is amazing and nobody is happy. We’re surrounded by marvels, and we look at them through a telescope backwards – making them seem more remote. It shouldn’t be that way.

pumpkins, pumpkin patch, harvest, Thanksgiving

Count your blessings

A frank assessment

If you’ve been reading here for a while (Thank you! Please consider subscribing!) you know that I believe these are dark times for men. Our foundations are under siege and our mores have turned in a decidedly more self-indulgent direction. Education, commerce, law, politics, and even the church have been substantially corrupted or co-opted. This means it’s as difficult as ever to find work, follow the rules and to get ahead. As steep as the hill is, it’s more important than ever for us to be the right sort of men. And in spite of the times I remain an optimist.

Have you suffered a blow to the head?

 No, my optimism is not the result of head trauma. I base it on a decision to look honestly at my circumstances while focusing on what is good. I recommend this approach for you, too.

Here’s my list

Just in case you’re having trouble beginning this process, I want to share a list of things I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving. Feel free to add your own in the comments below.
  • Health – I thank God for the health I have. About ten years ago I injured my back body surfing. Since then I’ve avoided surgery while getting stronger and more flexible. There are certain sports I have to avoid from now on, but I am thankful for all I can do.
  • Family – I thank God for the family I have. For the values and resilience I learned, for the love I’ve received, and for the challenges I’ve overcome, I give thanks.
  • Work – I thank God for the education, skills and experience I’ve acquired through the course of my life — and for the opportunity to use them to provide for my family — I give thanks.
  • Leisure – I thank God for the instruments and the talent He has entrusted to me, and for the time He has given me to devote to making music.
  • A Platform – I thank God for the ability and the will He has given me to communicate these thoughts to you, and I give Him thanks for those of you who take the time to read and to respond.
  • Church – I thank God for the joy of being part of a healthy, well-balanced church, and for the opportunity to participate in its leadership. I thank Him for the freedom to proclaim and to serve and to make a difference in our community and in other countries.
  • Technology – I thank God for the ingenuity that has improved and extended our lives. Fairly often, I read about a new invention or learn about a new medical treatment and I think, “What a time to be alive!” From iPhones to cures for certain types of cancer, there is no better time than now for human flourishing.
  • The Future – I thank God that in my worst circumstances, He gets the last word. No matter how dire the diagnosis, how uncertain the market, or how hostile the ruling regime, I can trust my Heavenly Father to work every circumstance out for my good and His glory.
I hope this will get you started with your own list. I kept this more general on purpose, but, as you can imagine there are lots of details I could add.

Even when it’s hard

Yes, these are difficult days, but you can turn them around for you and your tribe with God’s help. You may have to do some things differently and think more creatively, but it is possible. Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, says that stress limits our ability to think creatively. Showing gratitude — that is, giving thanks — breaks the grip of stress and liberates your prefrontal cortex to help you innovate your way out of today’s tough times. Resilience is yet another gift to be thankful for.

One more thought

 Each of us can be hopeful if he begins by giving thanks, as the Bible teaches, in all things.

So how about you? In the midst of your challenges and frustrations, what are the aspects of your life for which you can thank God? Add your comments below.

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic. Bring your best manners, please.

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