Gratefulness: A Way of Life

Many of us do not adorn our lives with thoughts and acts of gratitude. For some gratitude is a way of life — not so for the rest of us. The benefits gotten from that approach to life are enormous. Fortunately that approach to life can be acquired through intentional cultivation. Why would anyone want to do that? Because building your life around gratitude builds spiritual strength and deepens one’s sense of purpose. In the course of that effort, a healthier mind, body and spirit is also built. How is it done? I’ve accumulated a few things which can aid in that process.

Many of us do not adorn our lives with thoughts and acts of gratitude. For some gratitude is a way of life — not so for the rest of us. The benefits gotten from that approach to life are enormous. Fortunately that approach to life can be acquired through intentional cultivation. Why would anyone want to do that? Because building your life around gratitude builds spiritual strength and deepens one’s sense of purpose. In the course of that effort, a healthier mind, body and spirit is also built. How is it done? I’ve accumulated a few things which can aid in that process.

Some things to do that build an attitude of gratitude:

Come before God every day — Every follower of Christ is a priest and can, therefore, perform priestly functions. The most important priestly function is to offer sacrifices to God. Christ has done the heavy lifting and has fully atoned for sin. As His follower, a sacrifice you can offer is the regular, daily offering of praise. The word “sacrifice” is usually defined as enduring a loss of something. However, in the case of a Christian, it is a gain. You offer praise to God and God returns that offering with providence. See 1 Peter 2:9, Hebrews 13:15, Romans 12:1

Let go of negativity — In our modern world we are bombarded with negative issues all day long. It comes to us in the media; it is reflected in our conversations and has even become part of our entertainment. Negativity generates stress. Stress has far-reaching effects in health, happiness and longevity. Make an effort to look for good and positive things. Making intentional changes in what you hear and how you speak can produce real, noticeable improvements your life. See Colossians 3:2, Philippians 4:8

Change it around — Notice ungrateful thoughts that pop into your head and consciously rework them into positive ones. Everyone has negative thoughts and language. If we make the effort to become aware of them, we can improve them and change them. Pay attention to yourself — what are you thinking and saying? Find the good in the moment and bring it out. It will likely take some practice to catch those things, but the result is well worth the effort.

Watch forsmall, insignificant goodness — When life seems to have become dulled, one thing you can do is to look for seemingly “useless” or insignificant things — find the beauty or good in those things and express it. Express it to who? You can write it in a journal, speak of it to others or mention it in prayer. Make an effort to notice those “little” things — things that are usually insignificant.

Those “useless” things are things like recognizing a scent in the air, the color of a flower or the smoothness of a stone. Give that practice some time and effort. Eventually your ability to identify good things in your life will be sharpened and you will be changed in the process and life will take on a deeper meaning. See Galatians 5:22-23

Write thank-you notes — Make it a point to write thank-you notes or letters for each gift or kind act — or simply to show gratitude for someone being in your life. Additionally, if you love someone — let them know. It is good for others to know how you feel no matter how awkward it might initially seem. If someone loves you, honor that love — it’s a special and rare gift. See Galatians 5:14

Say grace at each meal — Adopt the habit of saying grace at every meal. Thank God for the food, who prepared the food and anything else that comes to mind. Expressing such gratefulness is a good way to develop your attitude of gratitude. It will also draw you nearer to God and foster a deeper connection with those who prepared the food. See 1 Thess. 5:17-18

Be carefulwith your nonverbal expressionsSmiling, hugging and actions like “fist bumps” are ways of expressing gratitude, encouragement and support. Such things also help strengthen your experience with positive emotions through a kind of spiritual feedback. You generally feel a bit better after doing those things. See Hebrews 10:24-25

Give real praise to othersPraising others is far more effective than praising yourself. For example, praising a partner by saying, “thank you for going out of your way to do this,” is a much more powerful thing than a praise said in terms of how you benefited, like “it makes me feel good when you do that.” See 1 John 4:6-7

Prayer and meditation — Expressing thanks in prayer or meditation is an excellent way to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Every human being is made to pray and worship. When we engage these things, we are acting within our most basic drives. Using these drives to express gratitude for God and for others is fundamental to spiritual growth and personal happiness. See Matthew 6:5-15

Create a daily gratitude ritual — One suggestion is to create a gratitude jar into which you add notes of gratitude on a daily basis. Any jar or container will do. Simply write a quick note on a small slip of paper and put it in the jar. Then read the notes at some regular interval — daily, weekly or monthly. Some have suggested that everyone in the family should be included in this activity. Make a regular event out of reading the notes in the jar — read them out loud. If you have young children, it is a great thing to establish a bedtime routine saying what you’re grateful for out loud.

Spend money on activities instead of things — Research indicates that spending money on experiences is better at generating gratitude than spending money on material things. After all, “you can’t take it with you” refers to material things not experiences — those you can take with you.

Adopt the idea of having “enough” — A more minimalist lifestyle is a key to happiness. Learning to appreciate and be grateful for having “enough” alleviates a great deal of stress.

Instead of trying to keep up with the neighbors, practice being grateful for the things you already have. See Philippians 4:10-13

Can you do it?

Gratitude is one of the central aspects for spiritual growth and personal happiness. I believe anyone can build their life around gratitudeby intentionally investing time and effort in as many of the things listed above as possible. The effort is likely to be one of the most important investments of a lifetime.

I’m personally going to work on this. What are you going to do about it? Are you going to work on developing a sense of gratitude? I doubt there are very many things that can yield a better return on your time investment than building gratitude into your life — especially gratitude toward the Creator.

Copyright © 2019 Sam Dronebarger | All rights reserved

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