If we aren’t happy with the life we have, sometimes it is hard to think about the possibility that we could actually change a few things and end up with a very different life experience. So far we’ve talked about helping others, practicing gratitude, looking for and acknowledging the positives in our life, and taking time each day to do SOMETHING that we really enjoy.
When we do these sorts of things, it turns out that it actually reduces our vulnerability to taking offense. Grateful, helpful people who regularly do interesting things tend to be less sensitive to the inevitable slights and hurts of others. Isn’t that amazing?
Maybe it’s because our grateful, helpful, interesting selves don’t have time to focus on the negative as much. Or maybe if someone is a bit gruff with us, or does something that we previously might have found offensive, maybe we are more likely to have some compassion for them. Maybe we say, “Wow. I wonder what’s bothering her? It seems like she’s having a tough day.” Rather than saying, “I cannot believe he did that to ME!” See the difference?
4 Be glad in the Lord always! Again I say, be glad! 5 Let your gentleness show in your treatment of all people. The Lord is near. 6 Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. 7 Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus.
8 From now on, brothers and sisters, if anything is excellent and if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things: all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise. 9 Practice these things: whatever you learned, received, heard, or saw in us. The God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:4-9 CEB
Grateful people are more forgiving, and forgiveness is a characteristic of contented people. If forgiveness isn’t your strong suit – don’t fret. Just notice this and consider the possibility that your ability to forgive might just increase as you practice gratitude, helpfulness and joy. Maybe we struggle to forgive when we feel like we’re running on empty. Perhaps forgiveness is a practice we don’t feel like we can afford if we perceive that we’re running on empty, operating from the law of scarcity. Either way – contented people are folks who have figured out how to forgive.