Use Gratitude To Have a Larger Perspective on Life’s Highs and Lows

Marisa Fienup, 4word advisory board member and Senior Director of Product Management for Tandem Diabetes, shares how gratitude has transformed her emotions and her relationship with God. She finishes her time with us by listing three starting points for anyone seeking a gratitude transformation in their own life.

You can listen to this conversation with Marisa on our podcast, Work, Love, Pray! Listen below or click here to find your preferred listening platform.

How can gratitude transform your emotions? 

There is no doubt that lack of gratitude can be the root of depression, anxiety, and discouragement. There are a few areas in which gratitude positively affects how you see the world, how you deal with stress, and how you respond to adversity. Mark Batterson writes, ‘We don’t see the world as it is. We see the world as we are.’ If you’re looking for something to complain about, you will always find it. If you’re looking for something to give thanks for, you will always find it.

Being grateful keeps me positive. Being positive makes me a better leader, a better wife, a better mom, a better daughter, a better friend, and a better human. I also believe that gratitude can reduce stress. Gratitude is an emotion that provides a larger perspective, lifting you above your circumstances. and In his book, Take Control of Your Aging, Dr. Bill Malarkey says that stress is the greatest determinant of aging. And the antidote to stress is gratitude.

Your ability to give thanks even in challenging times is the catalyst to being able to flourish. Joy isn’t getting what you want; it’s appreciating what you have. My husband and I are raising two teenage boys. The formula that that their school teaches the kids is one that I have adopted into my own life. Circumstance + response = outcome. I’ve discovered that even in challenging circumstances, you can find things to be grateful for, starting with a faith that you can lean into. If my response to hard circumstances is gratitude, the outcome is always better. 

How has gratitude transformed your relationship with God? 

To answer this question, I’d like to start with a verse:

11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry,whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:11-13

This verse was written by Paul, who experienced incredible highs and lows in his life. When I think about gratitude and my relationship to God, gratitude toward God keeps the focus off me and it points me toward Him. For me, gratitude starts with recognizing the basic miracle of living and breathing . 

As my body ages, I’m noticing there are many abilities that I’ve maybe taken for granted all these years. Our family loves the outdoors and we’re always blown away by God’s majesty and nature. As I’ve grown in my faith, I’ve also started to notice all the ways that I can see God’s hand working in my life and marvel at all the coincidences that I know are Him. Praise leads to thanks, which leads to gratitude. Praise is an action that shapes our hearts to be thankful for what is good. Gratitude is a condition of the heart that allows us to be grateful in both good and bad times.

Gratitude is different than thankfulness because you have been given something that you actually don’t deserve. One of my favorite analogies of gratitude comes from The Bible in One Year by Nicky Gumbel. In it, he shares an image of your walk with God being two boots. One is thanks and one is trust, and each day, you take one step at a time. Thank God for what he’s done, and trust God for what’s ahead.

For anyone that wants to see this gratitude transformation in their life but aren’t sure where to start, what tips or advice would you give them? 

The best advice I can give is to be intentional with your gratitude. I’ll go back to my first three points. The first one is ‘feel it’—connect with God through prayer. Praise Him in all circumstances. Aspire to walk the challenging path of finding sincere and consistent moment-by-moment joyful gratitude.

Next, ‘see it’— notice the blessings from God in your life. They are everywhere, even in the hardest times. Notice the blessings from those around you. There are infinite people who are making a positive impact on your life. Who are they? How can you connect with them? Understanding your blessings deeply and intimately enables you to find joy and intimacy in your relationship with God and with others. Be specific in what you notice and be specific in your gratitude. 

And finally, ‘show it’—gratitude is what you feel; thanksgiving is what you do. Thank others publicly. Thank God publicly. Give thanks often, give thanks specifically, and give thanks joyfully. I will leave you with one last passage of Scripture that sums all of this up:

Praise the LORD. I will extol the LORD with all my heart in the council of the upright and in the assembly. Great are the works of the LORD; they are pondered by all who delight in them. Glorious and majestic are his deeds, and his righteousness endures forever.

Psalms 111:1-4

Marisa Fienup currently serves as Senior Director of Product Management for Tandem Diabetes driving a digital and hardware product pipeline focused on reducing burden and improving quality of life for diabetes patients.

Marisa has a 20+ year career in the Life Sciences space leading global portfolios for large drug and device companies such as Baxter, Edwards Lifesciences, and Medtronic as well as identifying and implementing growth strategies for smaller privately held organizations.  Her passion is aligning unmet needs with strategic choices and motivating cross functional teams to implement.  Prior to her career in Life Sciences, Marisa also worked for Ford Motor company in manufacturing and marketing roles.   

Marisa holds an MBA from the University of Michigan, and a BS Degree from Purdue University.  She lives in Southern California with her husband and two boys.  In her free time, she can be found outside rock climbing, kayaking, skiing, or cheering her sons on at a baseball game.