The Greatest Revenge: Loving Your Enemy

What do you think about when you picture your enemy or enemies? It could be someone that hurt you deeply, or it could be someone that, for some reason, you just despise.  It could be someone that hurt your loved ones or friends.  What if I told you that you could get revenge on them legally, but it would not be the “revenge” you expect or want?  What if I told you to love them?

I’ve been reading the book, “Cost of Discipleship” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Christian missionary who was martyred during the World War II era.  He says in the aforementioned book, “The only way to overcome our enemy is by loving him.” (Bonhoeffer, 147).  Or her.  This is why I found that this is true, and why I consider loving our enemies the greatest ‘revenge’ ever:

  1. Because of the Burning Coal Principle. –What I call, the Burning Coal principle, is derived from the Bible in Romans 12:20-21, where it says, “Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good (KJV-emphasis mine).” The Burning Coal Principle is where one consistently strives to love his or her enemy by serving or doing kind acts on their behalf.  It shows the greatest kind of love, agape love, which promotes their well-being. This is the greatest “revenge” because when one loves his or her enemies like this, it does one of two things to the enemies.
    • These people will change their attitude and/or behavior towards you and repent of their evil towards you. They will appreciate that you are trying to be merciful to them despite their mistreatment of you. They will know that you love them and are not trying to take worldly revenge on them, but will get a glimpse of divine love from you.
    • If these people (enemies) do not change their ways and continue abusing and inflicting heartache on the person loving them , it will place a greater judgment on them. I believe God will punish these people for eternity if they don’t repent. Even on earth, they will most likely still suffer repercussions for their evil acts because if they see they are returning your good by being evil instead of good, people will most likely lose respect for them until they repent and show kindness to you.  They may also be disciplined by authority accordingly, if their offense is serious enough to warrant that.

2 )Because loving your enemy changes you.—Loving your enemy changes you, I believe, for the better. It takes a very strong and courageous person to be able to even consider loving an enemy. But when you do, it changes your attitude not only towards them, but also towards the whole world. When you become strong enough to even consider loving your enemy, you will discover that you have a more positive image of your enemy. No longer will he or she be just this evil monster or witch-like persona you had in your mind, but a hurting, needy soul will emerge in its place. You will be more motivated to serve them because compassion and love takes over the dark image you have of your enemy. It may take some time for this more positive image to emerge, so don’t rush things, but take one step at a time, if you want to really love your enemy, as Jesus did, when he was dying on the cross.

At first, loving your enemy may feel like you are “faking nice” to them, but as time passes, you will be more able to serve them with a genuine heart of love and compassion. Furthermore, loving your enemy forces you to look outside just yourself and your own physical and emotional needs and gives you a servant’s heart.  In general, you will love more and judge others less.  You will be more tolerant of others’ shortcomings, including those you love, but also your enemies’, as you strive to understand all people better and get rid of the entitlement mentality—which holds on to your rights and doesn’t really consider others’.

3.) Finally, loving your enemy changes the world around you.

a.)Loving your enemy can restore broken relationships.—For instance, off and on, I  had several people at work whom I would consider “enemies”, or at least, I was not on friendly terms with them.  However, when my pastor (and, frankly, God) inspired me to put the Burning Coal Principle to practice, what I found was that the relationships were restored. In some cases, God restored it to the point where I had an even better relationship than with them before I they were my “enemies” !

b ) Loving your enemy can bridge divides—In  Rwanda, when the Hutus and the Tutsis hated each other. The Hutu majority were trained to hate and kill Tutsis. Entire Tutsi families were murdered in this genocide. Some Tutsis wanted revenge, but some of them actually forgave the Hutus and eventually helped end the genocide-war.

c) Loving your enemy shows genuine love.—Loving your enemy shows genuine love because it is love that is not controlled by emotion or favor. It actually goes the distance and is supernatural. We do not naturally want to even consider loving our enemies because it goes our mentality for justice and our notion of fairness. However, when we strive to love our enemies, I find that we don’t focus on that as much. Instead we focus on not just our enemy’s good, but also the good of the world around us.


Loving your enemy is something that is very difficult to do. We (me included) fail at this, time and time again. But if we view our enemies as hurting and broken people, instead of the devil incarnate or just an evil menace, maybe we can change not only them, but the whole world


Cultivating Peace After Conflict

We all want it in life. Some people may even crave it so much they just want to rest and get some zzzs.  Besides joy and love, it is a given that most, if not, all people want peace in their lives.  However, there are obstacles and conflicts that we often face in life, many of them with other people. Some of us may have even had long-standing conflicts with a person or persons that have caused us considerable stress in our lives. These conflicts may have led to a lack of peace in our lives.  This has certainly been the case in my past.  However, I have learned these following things about how to cultivate peace after having a conflict with someone:

Things One Should Never Do in Cultivating Peace After a Conflict:

  1. Make excuses and/or fake apologies.—A fake apology is a half-hearted attempt to deny or ignore your part in the conflict by “apologizing” using the words BUT and/or IF in it. Examples of this would be: a.) I know I upset you, but you are too sensitive. b) I am sorry if I hurt your feelings.  The first fake “apology” negates the apology by blaming the conflict on the other party.  The second fake “apology” does not acknowledge your part in the conflict at all.  Any so-called apology that blames the other person and, thus, does not own our part in the conflict, is made half-heartedly, or is done solely because someone told us we had to apologize (i.e  when parents force their children to apologize to each other when they have no desire), is a fake apology.
  2. Pretend everything is OK when it is NOT. –Another thing we should not do when desiring peace after a conflict is to go on pretending nothing happened. This often occurs when a party or parties do not want to properly deal with the conflict. For example, if you offended me and I am hurt, but the next day you act nice and loving to me again, as if the disagreement never happened. Moreover, you don’t apologize or even offer to make amends with me first. This never works, especially in major conflicts, because it invalidates the hurt feelings of the injured party or parties. It also stalls necessary changes and amends that will need to be made for true peace because the issues are never properly addressed.  This tactic is often used by abusers to maintain a sense of bait and control towards their victims, though certainly not all people who use this technique are abusers.
  3. Still have anger and bitterness in your heart.—When you want to cultivate peace after being in a conflict with someone, you should make sure you don’t have any bitterness or anger still in your heart. I believe forgiveness or at least a sense of “letting it go” is vital to cultivate true peace with someone you had a conflict with in the past. If you still have anger and bitterness in your heart, I would advise that you deal with those heart issues first, before trying to reconcile and/or forgive the person or persons involved in your conflict. When I had tried to “make up” with someone when I still held anger and resentment towards them in my heart, things would often get worse because these people would see through my façade and just dismiss me, making me even angrier than I was to begin with.  Make sure you are completely at peace with the conflict and the person that caused it before trying to make peace.

Things One Should Do To Cultivate Peace After a Conflict:

  1. Confess your part of the problem.—We should humbly confess our part of the problem even if we are not totally at fault. This does not mean “confessing” things that are not your fault, as in the case of abuse. However, this does mean confessing any negative attitudes, words, or behaviors, which you did out of your own will that contributed to the problem. This even means confessing our past anger and bitterness towards someone, if it had gotten to the point where we couldn’t even think of said person in any sort of positive way!
  2. Find ways to repair the damage you caused and/or solve the problem.—After a conflict with someone, we should strive to find ways to repair the damage we caused by making any necessary restitution to him or her. If they caused the conflict or you and they both caused the conflict equally, you should work with the other person to find a solution to the conflict that will benefit both people. One or both parties may need to compromise, meaning to give up some of their desires to reach a desired peaceful conclusion to the conflict.  Do what is right not only for your sake, but for the others involved in the conflict as well.
  3. Make right with the other party or parties in the conflict before the sun goes down, if at all possible. –This principle is derived from Ephesians 4:26, which basically says to “not let the sun go down upon your wrath.” (KJV) This means you don’t want to wait more than one day to resolve a conflict.—You should try to resolve conflict as soon as possible. This way, seeds of anger and bitterness cannot form.  When we wait more than several days to deal with conflict, the tension lingers and often intensifies into deep-seated anger and bitterness, which I have found to be harmful to, not only our spiritual and emotional health, but often to our physical health as well. Prolonged anger and bitterness poison both body and soul.  Don’t risk it. Strive to resolve issues with others today.
  4. Forgive the other party for their part in the conflict.—In order to forgive, we need to know what forgiveness is. For more detailed information on forgiveness, please read this post. Forgiveness is letting go of anger and bitterness in one’s soul and trusting the ultimate Judge for justice.  We should forgive the other party for both past and present hurts in order to be at peace with them and ourselves.  Forgiveness requires humility and selflessness, but will release a weight of bitterness and anger that was on you and will ultimately allow healing for all parties involved.

These are the things I learned about cultivating peace after a conflict.  If we consistently applied these principles, I believe that there would be more peace our world.  May we strive to be instruments of reconciliation and peace in an increasingly stressful and anxiety-laden world.

How To Combat Jealousy

Have you ever encountered that little green monster? I don’t mean the creatures that are supposedly lurking underneath children’s beds.—I am talking about the very real experience of jealousy. Jealousy, as defined by me, is wanting something that someone else has so badly you want the person who has said thing to lose what they have. It could be a job or promotion that you wanted, or a fancy car that someone you know has (but that you can’t afford), and anything and everything else that you could want, but don’t have.

I admit, I sometimes get jealous of certain people who got the job or promotion I wanted. A few of them, I feel, aren’t even qualified for the position! In the past, I have even gotten jealous of my brother because I had felt he had it “easier” in life than I did (Nothing could be further from the truth, by the way.), while I struggled through school and through life. However, God has shown me (and is continuing to show me) these things to help me combat jealousy and conquer the green-eyed monster once and for all!:

  1. God showed me what I call The-Grass-Is-Always-Greener-on-the-Other-Side principle: One of the things that I learned this past year is that everyone has a story! In the above examples (the job story and the story about my brother), I have learned that a.) the people getting the job that I wanted do not have a very easy task! If they do something major wrong or make too many mistakes, they may even get demoted! And I never knew the more personal issues that they may hide from the world. My brother has had to work hard too, to get where he is right now. He has had different struggles than me, but struggles all the same. What I am saying is, the people who you envy so much, may not even have the ideal lives that you had imagined! In fact, they probably have similar or even more difficult challenges to face than we ourselves do!
  2. You are placed where you need to be, with the abilities and gifts you were given: Another principle I learned is that maybe I didn’t get what the other person had because it wasn’t the right timing or right according to what “fit” me to get said thing at the time. For instance, I really wanted to work mornings as a department manager for about a year now.  However, I believe God revealed to me that He had better plans for me.  First of all, if I worked mornings even to train for said position now, I would probably be getting significantly less hours than I do now, even as a full time associate, because many of the hours are now being allotted mid-shift, when I work now.  Moreover, I wouldn’t be able to minister and help as many people as I do now.  Also, as a theoretical example, if you couldn’t afford to buy the nice car your neighbor had, and had to walk to school and/or work, it may seem like a hassle. You may really want to have your neighbor’s car and even have resentment against your neighbor because she won’t even let you near her car.  However, what if by walking to work and/or school with others in your neighborhood you are more able to develop friendships and a sense of community with your other neighbors? Nothing happens by accident. You are placed where and when you are for a reason. Strive not to waste it!
  3. Everyone is valuable, regardless of rank or position.: I believe that, in general, society is being plagued by what I call the rank-value principle. The rank-value principle, in my definition, is the belief that certain people who rank higher or who have more worldly power are more valuable than lower-ranking, or less-powerful people. However, without the “regular” or “lower-ranking” workers, the CEO at a company wouldn’t be able to run the company very effectively or , at the very least, wouldn’t be able to expand his or her business very much. Sure, CEOs of companies or even your boss or manager, may have more power than you, but that doesn’t make you of less intrinsic value than him or her. This is why, I believe, James of the Bible says in James 2, “Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?,” in regards to this favoritism. What he is saying, is, in essence, that when you think that one person is more valuable than another based on a worldly-ranking system such as race, class, ranking in the company, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, or other distinguishers, you are becoming judgmental and devaluing others. If we let each person know that they had infinite value because of how wonderfully they were created, he or she would not so passionately yearn or even desire what belongs to another.

These are some of the ways that God has shown me to combat jealousy. Sometimes I do struggle with jealousy, as much as anyone else. However, when I focus on these above things, any jealousy that I had, fades away. What are the things that you have learned that helped you combat jealousy personally? Please feel free to discuss in the comments.

On Improving Myself This Year

This is almost the end of January 2018, as I write this, and I realize that I still have a long way to go to becoming the person I want to be.  However, by God’s grace, I am not where I was in the past, or even a year ago. I have improved. However, I don’t want to be stalled in my spiritual or emotional growth as a person.  In order to keep myself accountable, and in order to inspire you to make your own changes as you see fit, these are just some of the things that I plan to do to become a better person emotionally and spiritually:

  1. I will eliminate distractions from my life.—Starting last Sunday (January 21, as of this writing), I began to eliminate distractions from my life that have stifled or stalled my emotional and spiritual growth. This has meant deleting songs that reminded me of painful past events and how people have hurt me, both intentionally and unintentionally, that had no hope of reconciliation and forgiveness in its lyrics. It has meant ripping out diatribes and vents that I had against people that hurt me in the past, that now I have forgiven. This means not following people who say bad things about others on Facebook and other social media, or who tempt me to do so, in any way.
  2. I will be more intentional about being thankful for what God has given me.—Beginning today, I will think of at least three things that I am thankful for the day. I will try to look at the positive things about a situation, not just the negatives.  I will strive to use bad situations as an opportunity to glorify God and to serve others, instead of just griping and complaining about it.  I will strive to remember all the good that God has done both in the past, and the good he is continuing to do in the present.
  3. I will not hold on to bitterness and resentment for someone for more than one day.—Yesterday, was a very stressful day at work. I felt that certain people were taking advantage of my friend and me, and we weren’t even getting any appreciation for the work we had done. I even slightly frustrated one of my managers, even though she wasn’t really involved in my frustration.  However, because I respect and care about her,  God put it in my heart to make sure there wasn’t any resentment and animosity building up between us , and so I apologized for frustrating her and affirmed the true value I saw in her as person and as a manager. This is what I strive to do more often when stress gets the best of me, and I either upset someone, or I am upset with someone.
  4. I will slow down and enjoy life more.—This is what I learned in a blog I follow, yesterday. To see this wonderful post, see this link!  I will intentionally strive to enjoy each moment God gives me because I don’t know when there may not be any more to enjoy! I will hold each person I encounter as gifts from God. I will strive not to succumb to the daily grind and hum-drum of always working without having joy and peace  in what I’m doing.
  5. I will intentionally strive to learn other people’s stories before judging them.—When someone frustrates me or is frustrated with me, instead of getting upset or raging at them, I will strive to ask them, “What’s wrong?” or “How can I help you?” I will strive to get to know the people around me better instead of making snap judgments about them.  I will live to serve others before myself.

These are the things that I strive to do to better myself. Yes, I anticipate, there will be times that I will fail at these goals. However, when that happens, I will strive to pick myself up, and try again.  What are  some of the things you will do to improve yourself? Please feel free to discuss in the comments.

What I Learned From the Toughest Years of My Life

DISCLAIMER: Triggers for talk of eating disorders, abuse, and suicide.  Absolutely no disparaging comments about anyone, or your comment will be deleted! I will also put resources for anyone or a loved one you know that needs them. Remember, there is still hope as long as one is still alive!


On April 9, 1999, I wrote the following, a desperate cry from the depths of my soul: I feel dead without actually being killed. I hope I don’t die emotionally, but I am dying. I want to get better… […] If I could only find that zest, that greatness, life is supposed to hold. But where is it, at least in me?” This was a year before God took a hold of my heart, the year that my faith hero, Rachel Joy Scott and thirteen other lives were taken in the infamous mass shooting in Colorado.  This was also the year that I was verbally abused by a teacher, and he instilled a fear so great that it was fifteen years later before I was able to overcome it.  I don’t recall having any close friends at all at this time. I remember having a lot of tough classes too.

The years before that were not so much better. Three years earlier, I struggled with an eating disorder, which thankfully did not end up with me being in the hospital, though it almost got to that point.  I struggled with being bullied and verbally abused by a good number of my peers. I don’t recall being invited to any parties or gatherings with friends, unless I asked them first, and even then people didn’t really want to hang out with me.

During those years, from 1996-1999, were the toughest years of my life. Though I thought the pain would never end and I didn’t know if there was anything different for my life, I learned so much from these years of pain that I continue to strive to apply to my life today.  Here are some of them:

  1. Don’t reject someone just because they are different or needy.—I felt rejected by a lot of people during those years. Some people probably didn’t want to be with me, simply because I wasn’t “cool” to them. I didn’t have the right clothes, the right look. Some thought I was unkind because I was a bit depressed at times, without them taking the time to figure out what was wrong and invest in me.  Yes, there are times when it may not be safe to invest in someone at the time, but at least don’t assume they are “rude” or “arrogant” without learning their story. What if that “rude” (read: really depressed or angry) person’s parent or spouse recently died or is being abusive to them? What if they are going through things that they don’t tell you about because they assume you are too judgmental to caringly listen to them? You never know what another is going through. For instance, some people at my job may seem rude and abrasive at times, but then I find out that they are going through some things that are really traumatizing and/or difficult, and because of my experiences during those tough years that I mention, God helps me to listen with compassion, and I try to encourage and be a listening, supportive friend to them.
  2. Be careful of hurting someone with your words. It can ruin or hurt their very souls.–This is what happened to me when a teacher (I am not upset at him anymore….and if you are reading this today, I forgive you and I wish you the best) verbally abused me so badly that he instilled a fear that took me a long time to overcome. I think I internalized what he had said to me, and just gave up hope of ever becoming competent in the subject matter that he taught.  It wasn’t until my mentor, J, pushed me, that I was able to overcome this fear several years ago. I was also verbally teased and berated by my peers at school, who made me feel like an outcast and a pariah.  This is why when I say something out of anger that could really hurt someone, I apologize as quickly as possible.  This is also why I try to build up people, rather than tear them down. I want to improve other people’s lives and prevent them from ever having to suffer as I did with hurtful words.
  3. Pain and heartache may last awhile, but it doesn’t usually last forever—During those tough years, sometimes I thought so much that my emotional hurt and anguish I felt would never end, that I wanted to end it all. However, I am living proof that joy does come in the morning, as it says somewhere in the Bible. The next year, not only did the pain subside, but God also came into my life! Shortly after I graduated from college, I met one of my closest friends to this day. Almost two years ago, I started this blog, God’s Whisperings.  About a year ago, I became full-time at my current job. There is hope, as long as you are still alive. The pain may take some time to subside, but hang in there, so you don’t miss the hope, the love, and the joy you can have if you persevere in life and don’t give up.

These are major things that I learned during the toughest years of my life. I hope if you are going through a similarly tough time, whether it be dealing with a loss of a loved one (My grandmother died in 1996.),  dealing with abuse or bullying, struggling with an illness, whether it be physical or mental, or any other tough situation, that you will know that you are not alone.  I hope you will know that there is hope for your life, no matter how desperate or bleak it looks right now.  And I hope that you know that good will come out of this tough situation, even if you can’t see it right now. Don’t give up.


Resources for those dealing with some tough situations:

  • NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness)- This is an organization that helps people and their families dealing with mental health issues.
  • Suicide Hotline-
  • Grief counseling/support groups page—This is a webpage dedicated to helping those who have lost a loved one and are looking for support or ways to get through it.
  • RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network)—This is a website dedicated to those who have been sexually abused and/or assaulted. There is a hotline one can call in a life-threatening situation or just for support.
  • Jodie Blanco—She is an advocate who speaks on behalf of the bullied, both people who are currently being bullied, and adult survivors of bullying. There are some great resources for survivors themselves, parents, and teachers. There are even some resources on how bullying in schools can be stopped.



What I Learned From My Book of the Year

DISCLAIMER: I get no compensation from this review of sorts. All opinions are my own. However, if you would like to buy this book, please go to the recommendation page of my blog.

“You are what you think.” This is what the Bible says, and also what has been true in my life.  I have been struggling to combat negative thoughts almost all my life, whether it be anxiety-laden thoughts or more angry thoughts about someone I was upset with the previous day.  Then, one day, my Sunday School teacher (a.k.a : the pastor’s wife) talked about a book that she said in so many words, would change lives.  She said that the book would teach one how to think more positive, godly thoughts and revolutionize our attitude towards life in a positive way.  Because of my struggles with the thoughts that I have had most of my life, this book, “Loving God With All Your Mind” by Elizabeth George, seemed interesting to me. In fact, I was so interested in the book, all I could think about during the whole time my teacher was promoting the book was, I’ve got to get this book!” So, that same night, I got the book. Actually, I accidentally bought two and sold one of them to a friend of mine.


These are some of the things that I have learned from my favorite book of the year (Loving God With All Your Mind) and how these lessons can be applied to almost anyone’s lives, regardless of religious affiliation or belief:

  1. When you truly love someone, you will strive never to think negatively about that person.—Because of my tendency to think negatively about others when they had upset me or about how I “must” have offended them when someone was upset with me, this was truly a revolutionary concept. I discovered that one of the reasons that I hadn’t been getting along with certain people in my life was that I was constantly thinking the worst about them, and it stemmed from both an unforgiving heart and that they had hurt me before, and I failed to let go of the past. I think it was a defensive mechanism to prevent myself from getting hurt by those people again. The thing about love, though, is that it takes risks! C.S Lewis is even quoted as saying that if you love, you will get hurt. However, I believe even with the pain, love is totally worth it!  So, when I started to follow the advice of this book and countered my negative thoughts about these people with the positive characteristics I saw in them, I had a more balanced, more positive view of those people. Another thing I learned from “Loving God With All Your Mind” related to this lesson of not thinking negatively (or evil thoughts) about others is when a person seems upset with you, and you confront them and they say that nothing is wrong, you shouldn’t second guess them. I asked my Sunday School teacher (because the “lawyer” in my head had popped up!), “What if the person really is lying to you, and they say nothing is wrong, but you really have offended them.” She said something like, “Go with the lie. If someone is offended by you, it is their responsibility to let you know so you can do better next time, not yours.” To add to this, I am thinking also that if a person wants to hide behind pretense and games and does not want to let you know that they were offended by you, what kind of relationship is that anyway? Also, do you really want to continue being in a relationship based on lies? I don’t either.
  2. Look for the good in the trials of life.—Everyone goes through a rough patch at least once in their lifetime, some multiple times, or much of their lives. A lot of people, me included, sometimes think that life would be better without these trials, or rough patches, in our lives. However, Elizabeth George says in her book to look for the “gold” in our trials. For instance, during my elementary and part of my high school years, I was a victim of bullying by some of my peers.  When I was going through all that, I felt depressed, hopeless, and mentally exhausted of that life. However, these trials have taught me some valuable lessons on how NOT to live your life. A.) I learned how painful it feels to be bullied and ridiculed, both physically and verbally, through taunts and mockery, and strive never to inflict the same on another human being.   b) I learned how to value each person as God values me, in contrast to how some people treated me as an appendage or a burden.  c) I learned how to respond and not respond to these people.  Also, these bad experiences also led me to search for God and love and later ignited my passion to serve and love others.  Even in the worst of circumstances, there is always good that can come out of it, whether it be redemption in the situation itself or strengthening of our character
  3. Don’t dwell on past regrets or even successes, but move forward.—One of the more interesting things I learned from the book, “Loving God With All Your Mind,” is to forget the past. This means not dwelling on past failures or even successes. When we dwell on past failures, we tend to get stuck there, and this attitude prevents us from having the motivation to try new things or to try again. I know because this has happened to me.  More than ten years ago (probably closer to fifteen), I tried to learn the cash register at another job, but it was a disaster. I was so nervous and flustered that I did nothing right. This was still my first time learning it ever. For a long time, in my other jobs, I tried to avoid learning the register. Finally, recently, because I want to work up to be a department manager someday, I thought I should try to learn the register again. The first time in my current job, I was just shadowing another manager. However, the second time I was training, the person training me had me deal with customers! I was really nervous, but she said I did well for my first time with customers at that store! So, what I learned from this experience that others can apply to their lives too, is not to dwell on past regrets, but to move forward and try again.  Also, don’t dwell on past successes. For instance, if a person is so obsessed about their doctorate degree that he or she won’t lay it aside if necessary to get a job that they need because it is “too beneath” them, that is a bad thing. They should forget about their doctorate and do what is necessary to build success now and in the future.

This is just some of the things that I learned from my book of the year, “Loving God With All Your Mind.” When I follow the advice of this book, especially the lessons I outlined above, I have found my anxiety decrease dramatically and my general attitude being more joyful and more positive than before.  What are some lessons that you can carry with you from your favorite book? What is one book that changed your life that you recommend? Please discuss in the comments.



How Gratitude Can Help Alleviate Depression

Now, I am NOT saying that all or even some depressed people are not grateful people. I have struggled with depression since the age of ten, so I know that sometimes it is impossible to even begin to have a positive mindset without help from an outside source, and having an attitude of gratitude for anyone, even if you don’t suffer from depression, takes time.  That being said, what helped alleviate some of my depression personally is to think of things that I am thankful for and not dwelling so much on things that are not going great for me.  Each day when I am at work, I write down at least three things from that day (or the previous one) which I am thankful.   Some days, I struggle to name even three, and some days I could name almost an infinite list!  Here is how gratitude can help alleviate depression for many people.

  1. Having an attitude of thankfulness helps keep our focus on the good that you do have rather than what you don’t have.— defines jealousy as, “hostile toward a rival or one believed to enjoy an advantage.”  (source: Having an attitude of gratitude eliminates this because when you are so thankful for all that you have, you don’t even care about what others have or don’t have anymore, in terms of competition or advantages.  Being thankful means that you know that everything you have is a gift from God and not anything you are entitled to or deserve. When you appreciate someone or something that you believe is intrinsically good, you can enjoy time with that person or thing much more than if you view them as something that you are “owed.”
  2. Having an attitude of gratitude helps alleviate the anxiety that can be present with depression.—Having a thankful heart also helps alleviate anxious thoughts because this attitude basically says to oneself that no matter what, I will have at least one thing for which I can be thankful. For instance, if one previously has had financial worries and wonders if he or she will have to forsake their needed medication or food in order to function properly, if that person developed a thankful heart, this attitude would help alleviate their worries because they would only focus on the fact that they had enough for today and be joyful in that. One way gratitude has alleviated my depression is by changing my mindset when I am worried.  For instance, if I am worried that I may lose a friendship over something that I have no control over or something that I cannot change at the moment, instead of focusing and ruminating on what I may have done to offend that person , I focus on the people that have stuck by me through thick and thin.  I either talk about my worries with another trusted friend (without an attitude of gossip, of course) or pour my energy into spending time with family and friends with whom I have no problems.
  3. Having an attitude of gratitude enables one to see the hope that is even in the bleakest of circumstances.—Having a thankful heart helps us to be able to hope even in the worst of circumstances. I believe that some of the people who were sent to concentration camps by the Nazi regime were able to survive abusive and horrendous conditions because they were able to still have hope. We can apply the same principles to our lives.  For instance, we can rejoice that even when one of our loved ones has died or is sick, bad as that is, we can still hope and be thankful because we (ourselves) can see another day to make a positive difference in others’ lives.  If we are suffering with others, we can be grateful that we don’t have to suffer alone.  If we have a difficult situation at work, we can be angry and stressed about it all the time, or we can look at it as an opportunity to grow and learn from others and maybe even our own mistakes. (Yes, our feelings are valid, and it is not wrong to be initially angry at things going on in our lives, but don’t get stuck there!)

These are the ways that gratitude has personally helped me through my depression. It is not always easy to have a grateful heart, but with practice and time, it can be cultivated. I am still struggling through this, but when we learn to have an attitude of gratitude, we can live fuller, happier and healthier lives.