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Go, go, go. Spend, spend, spend. Buy, buy, buy.

The consumer mindset in our society pushes us into thinking that the next purchase will make us happy. Yet so many people feel empty and depressed. Instead of focusing on what they have, they dwell on what they lack.

Gratitude is the key to getting out of this rut.

In this episode, I discuss how consumer culture destroys happiness, why gratitude is in short supply today, and an exercise you can do to instantly become more grateful.

Show Highlights Include:

  • The consumer culture effect that makes you feel inferior to others and how to overcome it (2:06)
  • The depressing reason that gratitude is disappearing in society (3:04)
  • The counterintuitive way practicing humility brings you instant happiness (5:15)
  • The surprising reason dramatic improvements in your life make you miserable (5:43)
  • What a Mourning Dove can teach you about peace and happiness (8:29)
  • The One Minute Happiness exercise that can instantly develop gratitude in your life (10:56)

Do you want to stop existing and start living your best life right now? Click here to get the first chapter of Dr. Rick’s best-selling book, Lessons From a Third Grade Dropout, for free.

Read Full Transcript

Welcome to “How You Living?” a transformative podcast featuring best-selling author, inspirational speaker and minister, Dr. Rick Rigsby—and, now, Dr. Rick.

Dr. Rigsby: Hello, friends. So glad to be with you today. Got a great topic. I couldn't wait to discuss gratitude with y'all today. Simple gratitude. Having a mindset of gratitude, changes everything. Changes the environment, changes you, changes people all around you, and so I really believe it's so important that we take a closer look at this very powerful virtue, a virtue that some of us tend not to employ. [00:54.2]

When I was a teenager and even into my twenties, I was always thankful, but my gratitude was more toward material things. I was thankful for my bicycle or my car. I was especially thankful in college for my stereo. In the ’70s, we had those big speakers with the woofers and the tweeters with a turntable and an 8 track. I still have my Pioneer turntable, come on, somebody.

But you know what's interesting, when you get older, at least in my case, I started being more grateful for little things. They don't seem so little when you think about it. For example, I'm grateful to just get up in the morning. Y'all know what I'm talking about. Grateful for a roof over my head, for food on the table, for a warm bed, for drinkable water, for a family. I'm grateful for a job. I've had times in my life when I've been unemployed.

You know what's sad to me? Gratitude is a diminishing virtue in our age today. I think it's because we live in a consumer culture, and in a consumer culture, the focus is always on what we lack, not on what we have. In a consumer culture, the focus is not only on what we lack, but it's on what others have that we don't. Oh, boy. [02:15.4]

And so, guess what that fosters? That fosters a complaining environment. You hear people complain all the time, don't you, about their jobs? I hate this job. I can't stand this job. I hate going to work. They'll even say things like I have to go to work, and I love to say, No, you don't. You don't have to go to work. You can quit. You can start afresh.

But, you see, the complaining begs a bigger question. Why the lack of gratitude? We've identified one thing. A consumer culture focuses on lack, but I also think it's a great characteristic of the age in which we live. I believe that gratitude is a diminishing virtue in our society today. It's the kind of thing that we just don't take advantage of. It's a virtue that largely goes unused. It has the potential to completely change our lives. [03:11.4]

I mean, just look at this contrast. Think about what we tend to do. We go, go, go, do, do, do, spin, spin, spin, and buy, buy, buy. That leaves us irritated, upset, frustrated, stressed, completely empty, right? It's a consumer mindset that can foster some enemies of gratitude that speak to why I believe that gratitude is so diminishing in our society today.

Three enemies of gratitude—number one, greed. We constantly want what we don't have. We spend what we don't have to buy what we don't need to keep up with folks we don't even know. Oh, boy. [03:57.3]
How about this enemy of gratitude? Envy. We desperately want what others have. We covet. You ever see a toddler playing with a toy and the toddler is content, until another toddler comes along with a different kind of toy and the first toddler goes crazy? We adults are the exact same way. We covet what is not ours.

I think a third enemy of gratitude is pride. Pride says, It's all about me. Pride says, I've earned this. Pride says, I deserve this. I don't need to say thank you. Can you even feel that self-righteous tone in my voice? Pride seldom says thank you.

I want you to think about this. Humble people tend to be grateful people. Humble people say thank you a lot. Think about it. Humble people are very, very content. They're content regardless of circumstances. That's a very interesting point. [04:57.3]

Whether they have much or whether they have little, there is a contentment in their heart, and I think it's inextricably connected to a mindset of humility that says, I am just so honored, so pleased, so grateful, just to be living this moment right now. That's where I wish that we all could be.

I think that gratitude is not contingent upon circumstances. It's a mindset. It's a way of life. You ever heard people say, Well, when things get better, I'll be better and I'll show gratitude? No, you won't. No, not until you make a change.

As a pastor, I've heard people say for years, When I make more money, I'll give. No, you won't. It's a mindset. I hear people say all the time, I'll donate to this cause or that cause as soon as my boat comes in. No, you won't. Not unless you change your mindset because the mindset is what determines your condition. It determines your behavior. Your boat coming in doesn't determine your behavior. It's a mindset that determines your behavior. [06:05.6]

I was reminded of this truth in the unlikeliest of ways this summer. Let me explain. My wife has been trying to convince me to birdwatch for years. That’s a difficult task. It's like trying to nail jello to a wall. It just wasn't happening. Birdwatching is one of her favorite hobbies. She even packs her binoculars when we go on trips. Oh, boy.

On many mornings, I really enjoy sitting on our patio in the backyard. You're not going to believe what my wife did this past summer. She set up two bird feeders in the backyard and, suddenly, my life changed. I can't explain it. I can't contain my excitement. Every morning, during the summer months, watching cardinals and robins and finches, and other birds, with, I call them chipmunks but I guess they're squirrels, and rabbits, all playing together in the backyard. [07:09.0]

In fact, I would wake up just to hear the birds chirp in harmony, signaling the dawn of a new day. What's happening to me? I mean, I fell in love watching Bugs Bunny and Alvin and the Chipmunks and the birds. No text messages, no phone calls, just my Bible, a cup of coffee and God's creation.

Why am I telling you this? Because there was one bird in particular that captivated me, the morning dove, M-O-U-R-N-I-N-G4. The mourning dove would sit quietly. In the midst of the chaos, the mourning dove would just sit. Now, we know that the dove is a symbol of peace. It's meek in nature. They just would sit. Now, this makes the dove a target for prey, but its nature didn't change and it’s nature that distinguishes it from all the other aggressive birds. [08:07.8]

Listen to me. The mourning dove’s nature determined its disposition. The mourning dove’s nature shapes its behavior and that nature does not change with circumstances. Friends, a mourning dove—are you hearing me?—showed me how to have peace and rest, and contentment and gratitude.

This pastor by the name of Chuck Swindoll said on one occasion, “an attitude of gratitude is one of the most contagious of all attitudes.” Let me take it a step further. I believe that gratitude is arguably the most undervalued virtue in our lives for, you see, gratitude lifted me out of a pit back in 1996. That was the fall that my first wife passed away and for months I couldn't move. I was paralyzed. All I could do was get up and take my two little sons to school. [09:08.1]

At some point, during that first year, I made a conscious choice to find something to be thankful for and it was my two sons. I was thankful for those two boys, grateful that I had an opportunity to keep living by being their dad. And I know that doesn't seem like a monumental step to you, but here's the point. If you can make one small step by finding one thing that you can be grateful for, it has the potential to pull you out of a pit.
When you're filled with gratitude, you change the environment. You release it and energy into the atmosphere that's powerful. You lift the spirits up of those who are around that doctors tell us that gratitude positively affects our health. It positively affects our brain. Psychologists tell us that gratitude improves our mental health. [10:03.9]

Listen to this quote by an anonymous source. “He who forgets the language of gratitude can never be on speaking terms with happiness.” Gratitude who doesn't come from status or education, or bank accounts. Gratitude does not come from focusing on lack. Gratitude is birthed in our hearts when we are thankful, regardless of lack.

I want you right now to think of a couple of things that you can show gratitude toward, and I bet some of you are thinking right now, Rick, my life is a mess. My life is a living hell. I'm at rock bottom. I get it and I won't judge you, but that's not the assignment. Find something despite your circumstances that you can be thankful for.

If you're listening right now, that means you're breathing. That means you're breathing in fresh air. If you're listening right now, you've probably been drinking some water. If you're listening right now, you've likely been affected by the sun or the rain, or the wind or the calm. [11:05.2]

I want to tell you something, friend. Find something, even if it's just a glass of water that you can be thankful for. I was amazed. Many of you know I'm a pastor. I was amazed at a Bible reading that comes out of 2 Timothy that the Apostle Paul wrote toward the end of his life. I want you to listen to this. Paul said in 2 Timothy 3, “Realize that in the last days, difficult times will come. Men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable.”

What? You're telling me that Paul included ungrateful right along with unholy and unloving. Yes. Friends, listen to me very carefully. It is a difficult proposition to consider living a life without gratitude. When you live without gratitude, people don't want to be around you. You don't want to be “that” family member, the one that people shy away from. [12:15.5]

It is a choice that we can make that has nothing to do with our circumstances. It is so profound, this notion of being ungrateful, that the Apostle Paul linked it with irreconcilable, malicious gossips who are unholy and unloving. Oh, baby.

Friends, I don't desire to be ungrateful, not another day, not another minute in my life. I don't want to be “that” person at the office that's difficult to be around. I don't want to be that family member where others have to walk on eggshells all around me. I don't desire to relegate this virtue, this powerful life-changing virtue, to just a holiday. Why should I just be thankful on Thanksgiving or during the holiday season when this virtue is so powerful, it has the potential to change my life, to change the outlook that I have, to impact and lift up other people? [13:12.3]

I want to choose a different mindset. I choose gratitude. Why? I want to be happier. I want to be more generous. I want to encourage and promote better health in my life. I want to change my environment and, hopefully, impact others with an attitude of gratitude. That is a humble and unselfish way to live life, isn't it, friend? When I was a teenager, I was thankful for bikes and cars and stereos. Today, at age 64, I am simply thankful. What a great way to live life.

Friends, until we meet again, this is Dr. Rick asking you the most important question I can ask today, how you livin’?

Are you ready to make an impact in your world right now? Do you want to stop existing and start living your best life right now? Dr. Rick wants to give you the first chapter of his bestselling book, “Lessons from a Third Grade Dropout,” absolutely free. Just go to www.RickRigsby.com/FreeGift to get the print or audiobook right now.

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