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Is A Lack of Graitude Keeping You From Creating Your Best Work?

Is A Lack of Graitude Keeping You From Creating Your Best Work?

“I feel bad.”

Unfortunately, this is a common phrase spoken in my house, frequently expressed by my wife and daughter. My wife has always struggled with feeling guilty about everything, and there’s even been a sense of celebration when my daughter says she feels bad because, at least, it’s an emotion beyond a self-centered place.

But today, I had an epiphany.

My daughter has been moving towards turning her social media influence into an actual business. She currently has a brand deal that could allow her to create content at a K-pop conference in LA. It’s an exciting prospect for her, to say the least. However, my wife is not too thrilled about the idea of our Caribbean vacation becoming a three-day trip to LA so our daughter can experience this without being so far away from us. When my wife looked at activities she might enjoy in Los Angeles, she came up empty, despite there being plenty to do for my son, who loves amusement parks and pools.

When I reminded my daughter of this reality for her mother, the first thing she said was, “I feel bad.”

For whatever reason, that really resonated with me today. Maybe it’s because I’m fresh off a really engaging group coaching call from Phil Jones and Erwin McManus on communication. But today, I was listening more closely, and I found myself quickly refuting her statement and encouraging her not to feel bad, but simply to feel grateful.

It’s funny, the difference that gratitude versus guilt can make.

Guilt produces shame, which in turn produces separation, negatively affecting any relationship you want to develop. Gratitude, however, draws people closer and makes connections stronger. This positive emotion can propel and empower so many great things. Much more beauty is created in this world as a result of gratitude than from guilt and shame. So, I began to preach to her and to myself, and now to all of you, about the importance of changing the narrative from negative feelings of guilt to positive feelings of gratitude.

Gratefully receiving a gift calls us to joy and makes us want to give in return, either to the giver or by paying it forward to someone else who could use the blessing. Not because they deserve it, but because it would be our joy to give.

It’s interesting how powerful these stories are over us. You can refer back to a previous blog post I made when this blog began, where we discuss how these stories shape not only our emotions and actions, but our memories and perceived identity. But I want to settle in today on the thought about the unworthiness to receive the gift.

When I think about the guilt one feels instead of gratitude, it’s often because they know they are unworthy of the gift being bestowed. I can’t help but make the obvious correlation to the greatest gift of all—the gift of life and, more specifically, eternal life with God. None of us were deserving of that gift when it was sacrificed by Jesus on the cross. We could easily feel guilt and shame when reflecting on this, but doing so would cause us to miss out on the amazing benefits that come with receiving the gift with joy and gratefulness. Besides Jesus literally died in part, so we could be free of these same crippling emotions.

And we don’t receive the gift based on our worthiness. It is a gift not based on our worth, but on God’s joy in giving it. Do we understand that right now? That in receiving a gift from anyone, we are also giving them the gift of being able to exercise their joy on our behalf. It continues to be Jesus’s joy that we gratefully receive the gift.

It’s so amazing that right now, as I record the audio for this post, I walked down the block and saw two young boys playing catch in their yard. Their ball had been stuck in a tree. They tried and tried to get it down but couldn’t. When they saw me, they asked, “Can you help? Can you help, sir?”

Without thinking and with a smile, I walked up and showed them that if they just shook the right branch, the ball would eventually come down. As I shook the branch and the leaves fell, the ball finally came loose.

You know what they didn’t say? “Sir, I feel so bad about interrupting your recording.” They didn’t say, “Sir, I feel so bad that you have to stop your walk.” What they did say, multiple times with smiles on their faces, was, “Thank you. Thank you.” Then they joyfully returned to their play.

The narrative they are walking in right now is one of receiving joy in their life’s experiences versus feeling bad about the goodness and guidance God wants to bestow. We can’t fully experience an abundant and joy-filled, creative life with God while guilt and shame dominant their narrative.

Cicero said, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.”

We could spend so much time mourning what could be lost by ourselves or others, or we could focus on celebrating what we’ve gained and what we’ve had the opportunity to give.

What’s the narrative that you’re writing?

Alphonse Karr said, “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorns have roses.”

Get out of guilt and shame. And instead take the trip of a lifetime…Go to grateful.

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