Eighty Percent Grateful

November 23, 2015

Swirling red leaves. Pumpkin-spice everything. Pies, steaming casseroles, and a moist turkey . . .

Thanksgiving is almost here!-—an excuse to indulge in chocolate-dipped treats and a time to count our blessings.

A while back, I read an article that made me think about gratitude. The author stated that we generally choose marriage partners who are at least eighty percent what we want and need in a spouse. Affairs happen when spouses start looking for someone to fulfill the other twenty percent.

Obviously, this is not the case in every marriage that goes wrong, but I could see the author’s point. And I began to wonder . . . Could the 80-20 rule apply to more than just our marriages?

Could it be that when we begin to feel ungrateful — about anything — it’s because we’re fixating on the twenty percent that’s wrong instead of the eighty percent that’s right?

In life, the ratio of good to bad will vary from day to day: 50-50 sometimes, 90-10 others –but the 80-20 principle still applies.

On any given day, it’s probably easy to find something to complain about: an obnoxious co-worker. An empty wallet. The obstacle course of spilled sippy cups and scattered Legos branching across the living room floor. A husband who has such an aversion to the laundry hamper, it’s quite possible you could bury the Great Wall of China under his collection of dirty socks!

Often, we dwell so much on the twenty percent — the things we don’t like about life, the injustices, the stuff that happens that we don’t deserve — that we don’t recognize our most precious blessings. If we did, our lives would change.

Instead of complaining about co-workers, we’d be thankful to have jobs.

Instead of resenting So-and-So’s Instagram-worthy life, we’d be grateful for access to food, electricity, and clean water.

Instead of snapping at the kids, we’d thank God they’re thriving and healthy.

Obviously, there will be times when life hands out a seriously painful problem. The bright side stays pretty dim when your loved one is facing cancer or your child’s been diagnosed with autism or your spouse has been unfaithful.

But my point is that it’s easy, especially in today’s materialistic culture, to get so caught up in tallying everything we don’t have, that we completely take for granted what really matters. The old adage is true: sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

Gratitude should be a lifestyle that extends far beyond Thanksgiving Day. A lifestyle of gratitude says, “I know my life’s not perfect, but I choose not to obsess over everything that’s wrong. Instead, I choose to cherish all that is right.”

Easier said than done? Probably so! But this is what the apostle Paul has to say:

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (I Thessalonians 5:18 NIV).

I hope you’ll join me in being intentional of God’s blessings not only throughout this beautiful Thanksgiving season, but throughout the rest of the year. Here’s wishing you and your family an amazing Thanksgiving!