We’re always being told to be thankful for everything. To be grateful for what we have. Everyone from our wives to our friends to our pastors will recommend a daily regime of gratitude for focus and fulfillment. Today however I’m going to challenge you to do the exact opposite. Psychologist Timothy Wilson wrote the book Rediect to show us how redirecting the stories we tell about ourselves and the world around us, with subtle prompts, in ways that lead to lasting change. He postulates that the reason we find it hard to sense gratitude in our lives is because the wonder and mystery of it all has become ordinary. He was this the pleasure paradox. Basically, we’ve gotten used things being “good”.
To counteract this attitude of ingratitude, he suggests we us the “George Bailey technique”. If you’ve never seen the movie, George gets into difficult financial trouble where he jeopardizes the financial lives of not only his family but many of his friends that trusted him. Thinking of his wife, their young children, and others he loves will be better off with him dead, he contemplates suicide. But the prayers of his loved ones result in a gentle angel named Clarence coming to earth to help George. He shows George what things would have been like if he had never been born.
In seeking to evaluate whether there was any truth to this approach Dr Wilson conducted research and “In our research we ask people tp mentally subtract from their lives something they cherish”. They created two groups. The first group merely retold stories of how they met their friends, loved ones, etc. while the other group was asked to specifically imagine never even meeting, dating, marrying, etc. The result: “Those in the George Bailey condition…reported greater happiness with their relationships than did the people randomly assigned to tell the story of how they met their spouses.” Imagining something good never happened “made it seem surprising and special again” according to Wilson. This reminds me of 2 Corinthians 4:16 – “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”
The new becomes old but we have the assurance that God promises to always renew our weary spirit and make all things new again.
FX3 Daily D::
Read: Reflect today on what others would be missing out if you were never a part of their lives. What if you lived elsewhere, with someone else?
Pray: Make a list of how you have positively impacted those around you.
Meditate / Make It Real: Pray and Start thanking God for putting you in the right place and the right time for a greater purpose beyond yourself. Meditate on how he is continuing to use you beyond what you ever thought would make a difference.