Living in a State of Thankfulness
Aya Fubara Eneli, M.A., J.D.
Aya Eneli International
The teenage girl sulked as she trailed her mother. Every once in a while she would speed up just to barrage her mom with a series of whys. Why can’t I ever get what I want? Why do you have to be mean all the time? Why was I born into this family? Why don’t you want me to be happy?
I watched the scene as it unfolded trying to piece together the reason for this young lady’s apparent distress. She looked to be about 16 years old. She was fashionably dressed in the current fashions of the day. Her face seemed expertly made up and in her hand was a smartphone that she would furiously type on in between her tirades. She looked well-fed and taken care of, but we all know looks don’t tell the whole story.
As they made their way closer to me, I got more of the gist of the story. Her parents were getting her a car for the holidays, but it wasn’t the car she had set her heart on. She was determined to get what she wanted. Her frazzled mother just kept repeating, “You should really work on being more thankful.”
It made me think about the upcoming holidays (I like to call them Holy Days) and what our attitudes should be like not just during this season, but all through the year. How would life look like, feel like, sound like, and even smell like if each and every one of us committed to not just occasionally being thankful, but actually living in a perpetual state of thankfulness. But, what does that mean?
Webster’s dictionary defines thankful as, “being or showing gratitude.” From that, one can deduce that we become grateful or show gratitude to the extent that we are receiving something. However, I find the synonyms of thankful even more enlightening: joyful, blissful, delighted, gratified, happy, joyous, pleased, satisfied, glad. These are emotions and ways of being that do not have to be tied to actually being the recipient of anything in particular. It is just a state of being. The antonyms of thankful are also insightful: displeased, dissatisfied, joyless, sad, unhappy, unpleased, unsatisfied. Which words best capture how you live your life day in and day out?
I believe that living in a state of thankfulness is a decision made independently of our situations. The Bible says, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” That means that we remain thankful no matter our circumstances. We are thankful when there is plenty and thankful in scarcity. We are thankful in health and thankful in sickness or death. Our state remains the same at all times.
What does this state of thankfulness look like, feel like, sound like, taste like, smell like? It’s a smile, a welcoming demeanor (as opposed to irritation, etc.), a nod. It’s a warm hug or friendly handshake. It’s a shared meal, a shared laugh and even shared sorrow. It is light and uplifting. It smells like fresh air and sunlight. It sounds like unity and love, not condemnation and put-downs. It’s a gaze held for just a second that says, “I see you. You matter.” It’s a helping hand. It’s encouragement.
Imagine a world in which the majority of us choose to live in a state of thankfulness! It starts with me and you.
Aya Fubara Eneli is a best-selling author, Christian Life Coach, Motivational Speaker and Attorney. Her life’s purpose is to empower and equip people to live up to their highest potential. She and her husband live in Central Texas with their five miraculous children. For more information, visit www.ayaeneli.com, follow her on twitter @ayaeneli or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.