It’s a wonderful life

I wonder how many times the movie by this title will be shown this holiday season. While at the time of its release, the movie did not generate high attendance, it has since been called by many movie critics the best inspirational film of all time. I haven’t watched the movie this year, but I did see a marvelous play based on the story by a community theater group in our church.

Of course, the title begs the question: why is it a wonderful life? In the midst of all of life’s distress, financial problems, health issues, arguments, mistrust, the answer is the same today as it was for lead character George Bailey. It’s the relationships of friends and family that make life wonderful.

And yet, who can think how wonderful life is when everything in that life seems to turn against you.

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” So was Paul’s commendation in 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18. Thankfulness, contemplation, joy: these three things are linked. It’s no surprise that psychological research confirms that a practice of gratitude leads to happier moods and less depression.

Try this simple exercise. Every day take a couple of minutes to list three things you’re grateful for: that benefit you and without which your life would be poorer. Consider the reasons for these good things. This won’t make the bad go away, but you will find that you’ll do a lot better at recognizing that it really is a wonderful life.

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