“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thess 5:18
The practice of gratitude as a way to achieve happiness has been in the mainstream for years. Long-term studies support the effectiveness of gratitude, suggesting that a positive, appreciative attitude contributes to greater success in work, greater health, peak performance in sports and business, a higher sense of well-being.
While we may acknowledge the gratitude’s many benefits, it still can be difficult to sustain. So many of us are trained to notice what is broken, undone or lacking in our lives. And for gratitude to meet its full healing potential in our lives, it needs to become more than just a Thanksgiving word. We have to learn a new way of looking at things, a new habit. And that can take some time.
It is God’s will for us to accept each day as it comes, remembering that He is sovereign over our lives. Instead of regretting or resenting the way things are, He wants us to thank Him in all circumstances and trust that He is abundantly present in it all.
That’s why the practice of gratitude makes so much sense. When we discipline ourselves to give thanks for all we have, instead of complaining about what we lack, we give ourselves the chance to see all of life as an opportunity and a blessing.
Remember that gratitude isn’t a blindly optimistic approach in which the bad things in life are whitewashed or ignored. It’s more a matter of where we put our focus and attention. Pain and injustice exist in this world, but when we focus on the gifts God has given, we gain a feeling of well-being. Gratitude balances our perspective and gives us hope.
There are many things to be grateful for: colorful autumn leaves, legs that work, friends who listen and really hear, dark chocolate, ice cream, warm jackets, the ability to read, fresh roses, butterflies, our health. What’s on your list?
Some Ways to Practice Gratitude
• Keep a gratitude journal in which you list things for which you are thankful. You can make daily, weekly or monthly lists. Greater frequency may be better for creating a new habit, but just keeping that journal where you can see it will remind you to think in a grateful way.
• Include gratitude in your prayer life.
• Practice gratitude around the dinner table or make it part of your nighttime routine.
• Challenge yourself to find the hidden blessing in every difficult situation.
• Create a gratitude collage by drawing or pasting pictures.
• When you feel like complaining, make a gratitude list instead. You may be amazed by how much better you feel.
• Notice how gratitude is impacting your life. Write about it, sing about it, express thanks for gratitude.
Gratitude is a beautiful recognition of the love and support that God continuously flows to you. As you practice this, an inner shift will begin to occur, and you will be delighted to discover how content and hopeful you feel. That sense of fulfillment is gratitude at work.