Consider the person who works out as much as possible in order to achieve six-pack abs. The result is… six-pack abs. In order to maintain that six-pack, he has to continue working out, never forgetting to eat correctly and get the right exercise in order to maintain that six-pack. If this sounds like a never-ending job to you, then you’re right. It IS a job to maintain a finely sculpted physique.
When you think about how long we live, and then think about having to use that time in a commitment to maintaining six-pack abs, it feels like a grueling drudge of a journey. And guess what: it DOES become a grueling drudge because of the fact that our physical bodies inevitably wear out and it takes much more effort to maintain physique over time. By the time that we’ve reached the near-end of our life cycle, the pursuit of six-pack abs has become a joyless, unfulfilling endeavor. This is the typical result of focusing on worldly, physical topics!
The Pursuit of Spiritual Development
But what if we were given the opportunity to cultivate a personal characteristic that would be fulfilling forever and without a sense of dread, a characteristic that would be a constant source of joy? That opportunity exists in the pursuit of spiritual development. With even a minimal amount of attention to our spiritual development, we reap bountiful rewards that keep on giving! So, how do we begin to take advantage of this rewarding effort?
Be Thankful For The Little Things
By recognizing what we have to be thankful for, and then actually being thankful for it we will be rewarded. And how can we do this? Simple. (Yes, the key to joy is SO simple!) Begin by thinking about all the things we have to be thankful for – a measure of health, financial resources, access to instant socialization via the internet, and reasonable options for obtaining even more joy through instruction and counseling. Make a list of these things if you feel that it will help. Then think about all the people who do NOT have access to these things….
Some people do not even have clean water to drink; for all of us reading this article, obtaining drinking water is no problem. Some people do not get to eat every day; most of us have to exercise regularly in order to fight the fat that results from our having an overabundance. Some people have no access to education; our ability to understand this article’s vocabulary should really help us to be thankful for our educations. Some people, too, have no idea how to develop self-confidence and self-reliance because of the abusive, dysfunctional homes that they live in; this is indeed one of the most insidious tragedies on the planet.
Why compare our lives to the unfortunate? Because it is by doing so that we can see just how cushy our lives truly are. Each and every day, it is a valid, good thing to be thankful for clean drinking water, abundant food, education, and the reasoning skills to go after what we need for personal fulfillment. If we ignore those who have less, then we sink into a false sense of complacence, truly a sterile condition, one devoid of anything spiritual, a condition in which we become like spoiled brats… and no one enjoys being around spoiled brats.
Fruit of the Spirit
Once you realize all the wonderful things that you have to be thankful for, something amazing will begin to happen. A warmth will begin enveloping your heart and spirit. This is a beautiful blessing and reward for beginning your journey to gratitude. That warmth is not something that comes from working out at the gym, buying new shoes, or eating an expensive meal. That warmth is a “fruit of the Spirit,” freely bestowed upon us as we do things out of love and not selfishness.
When we realize that the world does not revolve around us personally, then we are able to be more grateful for the positive things in our lives. This leads to a growing desire to pursue acts of unselfish love and kindness AND to the resultant gift of Spirit.
If you truly want to be happy, then developing our gratitude for even the smallest things will reap us the largest reward!
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