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Today our family watched Mr. Magoo's "A Christmas Carol". Of course it starts with Scrooge, played by Mr. Magoo, counting his gold coins. Although his money bag is full, his heart is empty. After having visits from the four ghosts, Scrooge has a rebirth. He visits his overworked employee's household where he gets down on all fours and plays horsey with Tiny Tim. Shocked, Bob Cratchit comments that his boss has become like a child again. It reminded me of the Scripture verse: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 3:18)
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It is so easy for us to complain about what we don't have rather than rejoice in what we do have. However, we know that it is those who count their blessings are the happiest. We wait and wait for the big events to happen: the big job offer, the big house, the new job, the new spouse, the new baby. But we don't take the time to notice the little things: the warm smile that the cashier gave us; the person that held the door for us; the compliment someone gave us.
A Kansas City minister gave a 21 day challenge to everyone: try to refrain from complaining. He handed out wrist bands that said "NO COMPLAINT". With a physical reminder like a wrist band, he thought they would be more likely to notice when they were complaining and try to reverse the bad habit. The minister's challenge is something that we all should try.
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As one blogger points out, gratitude is not the reaction to getting what we want, it is a state of mind. It is something that we should feel all the time, regardless of our circumstance. Material things provide us with only fleeting pleasure. Only God can provide us with eternal joy.
People who notice the simple pleasures, who are aware of their blessings, who realize that life itself is a miracle, are happier more resilient individuals. They form stronger relationships, they enjoy better health, they experience less stress and they achieve their personal goals more often.
Like Scrooge, we need visits from the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. We need to have everything we hold near and dear taken away from us. Only then will we realize how precious our blessings are; how precious life is. Only then will we get down on all fours and play horsey with our children. Only then will we live life to the fullest.
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As Meister Eckhart said: "If the only prayer you say in your life is 'thank you', that would suffice."