Irving Berlin wrote, “When I’m worried and I can’t sleep, I count my blessings instead of sheep.” That is very good advice for this age of high stress living.
Who hasn’t lain awake at night worrying about finances, a teenager, a mean boss, a difficult client, or a serious mistake? I know I have and I’m pretty certain you have too. Though we all just want to be happy and live life trouble free, the fact is, life is a series of problems – some big, some small, some our fault, some the fault of others, and some even life-threatening.
Want to hear what happens to people who live stressful lives? Studies show they can suffer from heart disease, depression, intestinal problems, gum disease, erectile dysfunction, growth problems and even cancer. One study found that people who experience high amounts of stress at work are more likely to develop Type2 diabetes. One stress hormone has been found to cause skin disorders like psoriasis and eczema. There’s more, but writing this list is causing me stress so I’m going to change the subject.
One thing you can do to lower stress in your life is to take Irving Berlin’s advice and count your blessings. Lots of things change when you change your attitude from one of adversity and misfortune to an attitude of gratitude.
Someone wrote, “Gratitude is what gets poured into the glass to make it half full.” I like that. Studies show that as you deliberately cultivate gratitude you increase levels of well-being and cheerfulness. But here’s the stickler: It happens only to those who cultivate grateful thinking.
So the person who whines, “I just want to be happy,” can be happy if they would start being thankful for what they have, if they would count their blessings instead of enumerate their calamities. It’s all about focus, wouldn’t you agree? If you focus on your troubles, deficiencies, mistakes and your unsolvable problems you will stress yourself and others to the point of despair.
On the other hand, if you focus on the good things that happen to you, few though you think they may be, you will see light instead of darkness, hope instead of despair, joy instead of sorrow. And golly, which would you rather look at?
So My Kick in the Pants this week is brief but powerful: count your blessings not your adversities. This compelling concept was summarized in a short poem by an unknown author. It goes like this:
“Count your blessings instead of your crosses;
Count your gains instead of your losses.
Count your joys instead of your woes;
Count your friends instead of your foes.
Count your smiles instead of your tears;
Count your courage instead of your fears.
Count your full years instead of your lean;
Count your kind deeds instead of your mean.
Count your health instead of your wealth;
Count on God instead of yourself.” – Unknown
Your life will change for the good as you count your blessings. Though you cannot avoid many of the stressful circumstances of life, you can choose whether you will invite in stress as a permanent resident, or you will find ways to make it unwelcome and instead recognize and welcome life’s blessings.
Don’t be stressed, be blessed.