Why we really need to count our blessings

Robert Labayen

Posted at Jul 22 2019 12:05 PM | Updated as of Jul 22 2019 12:18 PM

Illustration by Robert Labayen

One morning after a dawn Mass, the priest blessed us. When I felt the Holy Water on my face, three words came to my mind. “Shower of blessings!”

I immediately thanked God for the fact that I am living with my family. We know how many parents live in countries away from home to make a living. Some of them wait two years before the short home leave.

I thanked God for the air I was breathing. That morning, I had a stuffy nose because of a cold but I was aware that millions of people are attached to an oxygen tank. My own father had emphysema. He would be short of breath after walking a few steps.

I felt grateful that I have limbs on a healthy body. I remembered motivational speaker Nick Vujicic. Born without arms and legs, he lamented he wouldn’t be able to embrace the woman he will love.

I felt thankful for my salary. It doesn’t make me as rich as my boss but I have more than enough income that’s guaranteed to come every fifteen days.

(I was tempted to thank God for my good looks. But I have to check again if vanity is a serious sin.)

I thanked God for my job and meaningful work, for the people who encourage me, for my Couples for Christ community, for the talents I’ve been gifted with, for my useful sense of humor, for my friends, my guardian angel, my books, my gadgets, Google, Facebook, etc.

Some of us may not have a family, or healthy lungs and limbs or a steady job. But all of us have many other things, more than what we can name within a whole day.

How come many people still have a feeling of lack?

In the book "Hardwiring Happiness," psychologist Rick Hanson revealed that most humans focus on the negative rather than the positive. He cited a 2001 study by Roy Baumeister which found that people pay more attention to angry faces than to happy faces.

I am sure you can agree that even though we are showered with praises, one bad remark about us will be enough to ruin our day. Or whole week.

Hanson added that some people have a “happy amygdala.” The amygdala is the part of the brain in charge of emotional responses. People with a happy amygdala are more optimistic and are focused on the opportunities instead of the difficulties. Unfortunately, there are more people who have a “sad amygdala.” The sad amygdala releases more cortisol and adrenaline to make us anxious and edgy.

Why is that so?

In the book "Positivity," psychology professor Barbara L. Fredrickson revealed that by biological design, negative feelings are more intense than the positive ones. That’s because early man needed to feel deep worry, fear and anger in order to stay alert and save himself from man-eating dinosaurs and beasts. He must fight or flee.

We don’t have wild beasts in the cities anymore but our instincts are still with us. If we give in to the negativity, we will fall into a depression. It’s a state when our brain stops producing happy hormones. We will no longer be capable of experiencing pleasure.

To overcome the instinct for sadness, Ms. Fredrickson advised that we must have a positivity ratio of 3:1. That means three doses of positive emotions for every dose of a negative one.

If we really count our blessings, we can achieve a ratio of 300 positive emotions versus 1 negative! Maybe more.

I always think that our Father is a God of Abundance. Actually, a God of Overflow.

He has already given you so much. Just look around you. As of now, he is packing a big box of blessings for you in the coming year.

Our mind is a powerful magnet. What we think of a lot, we attract. Just never doubt.

“Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. “
(Malachi 3:10)


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About the Author:

Robert Labayen spent 22 years in advertising prior to joining ABS-CBN in 2004. He was VP-Creative Director at Saatchi & Saatchi and Executive Creative Director at J. Walter Thompson, two of the country's leading ad agencies. He is currently the Head of Creative Communications Management at ABS-CBN. His job involves inspiring people to be their best. He is a writer, painter and songwriter.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.