Are You Anxious? Practice Gratitude.
Are you anxious?
There is so much angst in the air right now.
As the world is gearing up for another round of quarantines and lockdowns, it’s an anxious time.
While no one knows what the future holds, we don’t have to give into fear.
It’s possible to enjoy the present and let the uncertain future worry about itself.
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34)
It’s fitting that we take time as a culture to pause in Thanksgiving. It was during another tumultuous time—right in the middle of the Civil War—that Abraham Lincoln called for a national day of gratitude.
“In the midst of a civil war… I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States… to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”
Even in the middle of all the tragedy of warfare, Lincoln recognized we had so much to be grateful for.
This reminds me of a quote from Charles Dickens:
"Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some."
This year hasn’t been easy. And new troubles may yet come. Even so, when we take a moment to practice gratitude and thanksgiving, it alleviates the fear.
An attitude of gratitude is the antidote to anxiety.
Perhaps that is why Paul said,
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6)
Paul suggests prayer and thanksgiving as the opposite of anxious worry.
Now this might seem like a great thought, but it’s actually something we need to practice. Notice how a few verses later, Paul says we should take his words and “put it into practice (v 9).”
In order to develop an attitude of gratitude, we have to take action.
"Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it." —William Arthur Ward
One of the best ways I’ve found to develop an attitude of gratitude (and subsequently reduce my anxiety over the future) is to make a gratitude list.
It’s easy. You just write a list of things you are grateful for. Simple, right?
Simple, and profoundly effective.
Why don’t you try it? Make a list of a dozen or more things that you are thankful for.
I think you’ll find that it’s almost impossible to be anxious and grateful at the same time.
An attitude of gratitude really is the antidote to anxiety.
We may not know what the future holds, but when we hold tight to the One who holds our present, we can know peace.
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)