Footsteps in Faith: Thanks and gratitude go together

| March 8, 2018 | 0 Comments

Chaplain (Lt. Col.) David Curlin
U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii

“In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
— 1 Thessalonians 5:18


SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — What emotion is at the heart of your deepest happiness? Is it “She said, ‘yes!’” or “Congratulations, it’s a beautiful healthy baby girl.”

Perhaps any of these: “You are on the promotion list.” “You made the team.” “You passed your exam.” “You won the scholarship.” “You are cancer free.” Or maybe, “He’s going to be okay.”

What emotion do these declarations elicit? Is it not gratitude?

The reality is that you cannot feel gratitude and be unhappy or angry. Grateful people are happy people. Grateful people are kind people. Everything that increases gratitude adds to human happiness. The more gratitude you feel, the more kind, honest and generous you will become.

Unfortunately, the opposite is true, as well. You can’t be a happy or good person if you are not grateful. Ingratitude simply destroys the human capacity for happiness and kindness to others. For this reason, anyone who wants to be happy or kind will guard anything that erodes gratitude.

Enemies of happiness
So, if you want to be happy, reject victimhood and entitlement. Both attitudes repel feelings of gratitude.

Victimhood breeds anger. Anger creates the desire to punish and inflict harm. Victims feel that because they have been hurt; they have the right to hurt others.

Victimhood may be the single greatest reason people try to hurt others. From gossip to mass murder, victimhood diminishes the human capacity for gratitude and kindness is fertile soil for anger and resentment.

Footsteps in Faith


A sense of entitlement is another formidable enemy of your happiness. The more entitled you feel, the less grateful you will be for what you do get – and the angrier and unhappier you will be about what you don’t get. Of course, the opposite is equally true. The less entitled you feel, the more gratitude you will experience in what comes to you – and the less disappointed you will be about what is withheld.

The more that you feel life owes you the less happy you will be!

Given this undeniable fact, it is surprising that there are those who actually encourage victimhood and entitlement.

“You deserved to make that team or get that promotion. You have a right to be angry. You were slighted because you are too short or too tall or the wrong gender or the wrong ethnicity or the wrong MOS.”

Don’t buy these sentiment, unless of course, you want to remain unhappy and angry.

Cultivate thoughts and attitudes of gratefulness, and dismiss all thoughts of victimhood and entitlement. Though you will probably be victimized on occasion or end up with the short end of the straw, never let these realities lead you to attitudes of victimhood or entitlement.

Why? Because you can’t be happy or kind or generous or good if you feel like a victim, and entitlement will diminish your ability to feel the gratitude so essential to your happiness.

Maybe this is the reason that our loving and wise God so often commands us to give thanks and to be thankful and so condemns ungratefulness. He knows how we are made, and he desires our joy to be great in him.

So, if you want to really be happy, give thanks always with a grateful heart for this is the will of God concerning you.


Category: Standing Columns

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