#31 Count Your Blessings and Add Up Your Happiness
In the 1954 movie White Christmas, Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney sang Irving Berlin’s “Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep)” to help ease each other’s worries. The song’s sweet melody and lyrics are calming and comforting. Moreover, the piece offers excellent advice for achieving happiness. So, even if you aren’t worried and can sleep, you can still count your blessings and add up your happiness!
Why People Recount Their Problems Instead of Their Blessings
Why do so many of us claim we want to be happy but constantly worry and recount the bad things in our lives that make us unhappy? Here are five reasons people hold onto their troubles:
- We are built to have a natural negative bias to preserve our existence. This bias makes it easy to think in negative terms. Moreover, it intensifies our reactions to adverse events giving us an emotional rush.
- The need for control. If something terrible happened to you where you had no power, you might develop a need to control your life and the lives of others to ensure safety. Consequently, to sustain that need, you must seek negative things you can handle.
- Some people believe they must consciously remember bad things so they won’t make the same mistakes.
- There is no resolution for harm or injury caused by another person. If someone causes another person injury or harm and there is no restitution, the victim will hang onto the hurt to punish the offender just in her mind. Sometimes people spend years plotting revenge. Therefore, they hold onto dreadful events so they can imagine a satisfying outcome.
- People don’t understand forgiveness. We know we’re supposed to forgive others. However, many of us weren’t taught what forgiveness is and how to do it. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you accept or condone unacceptable behaviors. And, it isn’t as easy as the saying, “Forgive and forget.” Our subconscious mind’s alert system remembers what is painful so we can avoid it in the future.
Moreover, when someone hurts you, your brain takes in millions of pieces of information, including sights, sounds, smells, physical and emotional feelings, tastes, and thoughts. Even though you might consciously let go of an incident, you might have a sensory memory that gets triggered and brings up the painful event again. Every time this happens, you once again must let go of the hurt. Pain relief tip: The quickest way to get rid of your pain is to give it away – God’s hand is always out to take it.
Results of Counting Your Problems
Recounting painful memories does not make you feel good. In fact, it has adverse effects. I bet if someone did to you what recounting painful memories does, you would want revenge! Here are a few things that happen when you count your problems:
- Like the proverbial fish tale, the more you tell a story, the greater the opportunity for embellishment. Therefore, each time you recount an adverse event, you enhance your negativity.
- Soon, negativity will dominate your thoughts, words, emotions, and behaviors.
- Replaying adverse events over and over keeps your corresponding thoughts and feelings alive. Therefore, your subconscious alert system never shuts off. This system overload causes anxiety and depression.
- You’re a victim when something terrible happens to you. Keeping a constant tally of those sinister events keeps you in the role of victim. You become a chronic victim. Accordingly, you will live your life as a poor unfortunate soul.
Mulling over bad things that have happened to you does not change the outcome. It does not resolve the issues, and it doesn’t make you safer. Recounting unjust and hurtful situations is a form of negative meditation that spawns a plague of curses.
People meditate to relax their bodies and minds and to refresh their souls. But, meditating on bad experiences tenses your body, agitates your mind, and weakens your soul. Moreover, when you focus on bad experiences, you give them importance. So when you recount negative experiences, you value things that are less than zero. You spend valuable time on things that never add up to anything more than zero. Like something that’s been cursed, negative meditation is fruitless.
Curses vs. Blessings
When something is cursed, it loses productive benevolence. It has no benefit. Jesus cursed the fig tree, and it shriveled up. To curse someone, as opposed to cursing at someone, means to invoke misfortune or afflict him/her so that all their good things and happiness shrivel up.
It’s easy to curse someone who’s hurt you. But, if you remain a victim and seek revenge, you end up cursing yourself more – you give importance to painful memories when you recount them. Therefore, you value something that has no benefit and no worth.
It makes more sense (cents) to value things that have worth. Anything of worth is beneficial to the one who owns it. And, that benefit extends to other people, which brings everyone joy. Worthy things can be gifts, benefits, or advantages. They are blessings.
Definition of Blessings
Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary defines blessing as “A wish of happiness pronounced; a prayer imploring happiness upon another; any means of happiness; a gift, benefit or advantage.”
People have wished happiness to each other for thousands of years. Even before the first century, people warded off evil spirits by offering good wishes to each other. These good intentions evolved into blessings. It’s reported that during the plague in 590, Pope Gregory the first advised people to say, “God bless you” to anyone who sneezed as a prayer to invoke good health. What has made us continue this invocation for nearly fifteen hundred years? People feel good when someone they may or may not know implores the King of the Universe to bestow favor on them.
Webster’s definition also implies that blessings are physical and spiritual. Physical blessings include people, food, home, health, prosperity, talents, and success. Spiritual blessings are forgiveness, eternal joy, salvation, spiritual strength and peace, favor and grace, security, and freedom from fear.
Physical blessings allow us to enjoy a beautiful earthly life. At the same time, they are a means for us to enrich our spiritual gifts. Similarly, our spiritual blessings stir our hearts to be loving, merciful, and generous, which move us to share our physical benefits with those in need.
Blessings Come From God
Blessings do not exist without happiness. And happiness does not exist without God. Therefore, all benefits exist because of God. In other words, all blessings come from God. Since God is the creator and distributor of gifts, they must be credited to Him and used for His purposes. Writer Vaneetha Rendall Risner sums this up beautifully in her description of blessings. She writes, “Scripture shows that a blessing is anything God gives that makes us fully satisfied in him. Anything that draws us closer to Jesus. Anything that helps us relinquish the temporal and hold on more tightly to the eternal.”
Our ultimate goal should be to live eternally in complete happiness in God’s glorious kingdom. The life we have here on earth allows us to work towards that goal. And, God has given us everything we need to accomplish it. He has blessed us with everything we have, including the world itself.
God created a world of extraordinary beauty that we can experience through sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. Genesis explains that God created everything above, below, and on the earth and blessed his creations. He made men and women. And, He blessed mankind to have agile bodies, sophisticated minds, and eternal souls so we can be productive, be happy, and have eternal life with Him.
Furthermore, God blessed us with unique characteristics and talents, so each of us has a different way of helping and serving others. (Romans 12:6-8) God also blessed us by creating food. And, He made precious metals, including gold. Therefore, God blessed us with material wealth and currency.
How We Get More Blessed
We often question why some people have so many more blessings than others. There are too many variables to answer that. And it is a matter of perception. Some people might seem to be more blessed, but they use and share their gifts more with others.
God does not have a lottery for winning blessings. Neither does he have a scorecard. God blesses everyone. He wants us to acknowledge and appreciate our blessings. But to do this, we must acknowledge and appreciate Him first. The more we acknowledge and honor God, the more grateful we are for the blessings he’s given us. And, the more grateful we are for our gifts, the more He blesses us.
But, it’s our choice. We choose how much we worship God and how grateful we are. This free will gives us individuality. Therefore, God’s blessings align with each person’s uniqueness.
God is Not a Socialist
God knows the value of individuality. He is not a socialist. If He blessed us all the same, we would be alike and have the same. There would be no need to serve one another and no motivation to do good works. Therefore, there would be no need to serve God. That would take away our uniqueness and individual freedom of choice, our need for Jesus Christ, and our ability to enjoy eternal life with our Lord.
Every human being has been blessed with the miracle of life and the benefit of choosing eternal joy or perish. The greatest blessing God gives us is salvation through accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior. For people who have the cognitive ability to make decisions, this blessing is a choice. God blesses people who aren’t capable of making decisions with His grace and mercy so that they can remain with Him.
We Choose to be Blessed or Cursed
God has also blessed us with the freedom of choice. We choose to accept or not accept our blessings. In other words, we can be blessed or cursed. To be blessed, we must obey God’s commands. He promises us innumerable blessings when we are obedient. But, when people live by their own rules, they push God away. They are disobedient. They value their desires and the looseness of their sinful nature, which require no obedience. This disobedience results in lawlessness and dissatisfaction. And, these people feel an emptiness. It is a cursed existence.
Follow God’s Commands for Blessings
To be obedient to God, you follow His rules. Review and adhere to the first Ten Commandments. Then, actively practice the two Jesus verified as most important: 1. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 2. Love your neighbor as yourself.
Why Some People Don’t Recognize Their Blessings
These two commandments allow us to recognize our blessings, use them as God intended, and share them with others. But, sometimes, people struggle with identifying their blessings. Some people view their gifts as common inherent traits and claim, “That’s just the way I am.” Others believe blessings should be big and obvious. Therefore, because they aren’t in the public eye or have a high-powered position, they minimize their talents and gifts as trivial and mundane acts.
So, what are some blessings? Like the song goes, “I think about a nursery, and I picture curly heads,” we are blessed to have other people in our lives. Family, friends, neighbors, doctors, dentists, mechanics, plumbers, electricians, first responders, clergymen, cooks, and hundreds of other service providers are there for us each day. How many times have you been grateful that you had someone you could rely on to help you?
We rely on other people because they have the skills to do what we can’t. They are blessed with particular talents. Conversely, as customers, we are blessings to them since we appreciate their talents!
Besides obvious talents people have, many spiritual blessings are less noticed. The Bible notes these significant gifts and talents. Here is a sample.
- Prophecy – This is not fortune-telling. It’s showing possible outcomes by helping others think things through.
- Service – Assisting individuals, groups, or society.
- Teaching – Not necessarily the vocation of a teacher. But providing others with beneficial information.
- Giving – Some people are good at giving money, gifts, awards, material goods, or food instead of physically participating.
- Showing mercy – Mercy givers sense and respond to the emotional and spiritual needs of others. They sense people’s suffering respond empathically. They love those who are unlovable.
- Praying – Not everyone is good at talking to God, especially for the sake of others. Intercessory prayer is a gift from the Holy Spirit that allows you to prevail in compassionate prayer on someone else’s behalf, motivated by the heart of God.
- Healing – Not everyone can be a doctor. And those who are, have special abilities. But, people are often in need of emotional healing. To provide emotional healing, one must empathize and show love to others to the point of healing their emotional wounds.
- Wisdom – Those who are blessed with wisdom have greater insight into life. They speak to an individual’s life or a specific situation with great understanding and a righteous perspective to guide others toward a life of holiness and worship.
- Intelligence – Some people are just really smart. They can create, discover, and invent things that benefit our lives.
- To encourage – No one is immune from feeling discouraged or depressed. And, not everyone is good at lifting people’s spirits, especially during gloomy times. People blessed with the gift of encouragement genuinely elevate people’s moods and optimize people’s attitudes through love and truth.
- Leadership – The goal of the gifted leader is to guard and guide those he leads. Good leaders recognize their gift comes from the one true leader, so they submit to God and not their own pride. They do not feel entitled but remain servants to those they lead. Influential leaders remain strong in faith and courage.
- Speaking different languages – According to Scripture, “different” languages meant speaking in tongues. However, today we have many other languages that didn’t exist in Biblical times. Still, we must talk so people can understand what we are saying. But, not everyone can learn or speak multiple languages. Therefore, being able to speak different languages, including sign language, is a blessing.
- Interpreting different languages – To effectively communicate and help one another, we must understand each other. Whether it is a national language, sign language, colloquialisms, or reading people’s expressions and body language, some people are better at interpreting what people are saying than others.
Counting your blessings makes you meditate on all the good in your life and adds to your happiness. However, if you’re in a mood that makes addition difficult, or you just stink at math, you can just recount (describe) your blessings. Use the list as a guide if necessary.
You Decide if You Want to be Happy by Counting Your Blessings
It’s easy to fall into the pit of curses. Therefore, if you feel like you have more curses than blessings, you must first be truthful. Ask yourself if you genuinely want to be better and be happier. Then, you must decide if you’re willing to do what is necessary to achieve happiness. You must be willing to believe God’s promises, study His word, and be obedient to Him.
God Promised to Turn Curses into Blessings
Know that God promised to turn curses into blessings. But only if you revere and obey Him. Do this by asking Him into your heart, following his rules, and knowing His word. An easy way to start is by following the two commands Jesus gave us – love God, each other, and yourself.
If you still have trouble recognizing your blessings, pay attention to other people. Acknowledge, accept, and appreciate their abilities and talents. As soon as you do that, you’ll realize you’re blessed!