“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” Elkhart Tolle
We can all agree that 2020 has been a rough one and as we enter the week of Thanksgiving, I think it’s important now more than ever to cultivate a heart of gratitude. Just as Elkhart Tolle says above, we all have some good in our life and acknowledging that good is ultimately what lays the foundation for abundance and happiness.
Wouldn’t our lives be so much better off if we could cultivate and practice this heart of gratitude? Wouldn’t our situations look different if we held onto an attitude of gratitude? Wouldn’t the people around us feel more empowered to practice gratitude if we could display the goodness that it brings to our lives?
People who cultivate a heart of gratitude share a few things in common:
1. They always have a good perspective and an attitude of gratitude in every situation.
Even though the world looks dim and things are not in our control, if we could grab onto this concept, we could live a happier and peaceful life. Always see the good! Always believe the good! Always live the good! Even though our situations may look dark friends, have hope that we will come out stronger than we were before. People that practice this type of perspective are always positive and hopeful that everything is going to be okay. We may struggle through hard and difficult times but the sun always shines again. Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is Gods will for you in Christ Jesus – 1 Thessalonians 5:18
2. They look at everything they have as a gift, not a right
We work hard to earn our money and we buy things and material items that are ours! Our money is ours, our things are ours, that spot in line is ours, right? Wrong. This attitude is the opposite attitude you need to cultivate in order to be grateful. Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth…when your life comes to end, dust will gather on these once prized possessions and they will have not benefited you. Rather, see every thing you have and every opportunity you are given as a gift. In years past working with missionaries in the Dominican Republic, I was always amazed at the joy and gratitude of the people living in shakes and shanty’s with dirt floors and one bed for the entire family. They were happier than the privileged family living with everything at their fingertips. Why? Because they lived everyday thankful for the gifts they had been given. We could learn a thing of two from these people…
To me this way of life and gratitude sounds so infectious and desirable. So, how do we start cultivating this same gratitude in our everyday life? Listed below are a few ways you can begin to practice and cultivate this heart of gratitude.
Take 5-10 minutes every day to just reflect. Set an alarm on your phone for reflection. Put down your phone and your tablets. Look at some old photo albums, think back to some great memories, reflect on the gifts you have right in front of you. Reflect upon the good relationships in your life, whether that be your children, your siblings, your co-workers, your spouse, your friends, your parents, etc. Reflect on the food you get to eat today.
2. Start a gratitude journal
Get a new notebook and start a daily gratitude journal. This doesn’t have to be a long journal entry, it could be as simple as a sentence for each day.
- Day 1 I am thankful for my family
- Day 2 I am thankful for the food I have to eat today
- Day 3 I am thankful for the sunshine and the beautiful breeze
3. Talk about
Don’t just write it, talk about it. Tell your children that you are so thankful for them. Tell your co-worker you really appreciate them helping you out on that report. Tell your parents that you are thankful for all they did and sacrificed to give you a good childhood. Look at someone in your life and think to yourself, Am I thankful for this person in my life? More than not, you are thankful for them. Don’t let a moment go by without letting them know how very grateful you are for them.
4. Practice it
People who are thankful are people who serve others. Look around you and find opportunities to share your gratitude with others. Do you see a family who can not afford a turkey for thanksgiving? Get them one. Do you know someone who is living paycheck to paycheck and could use a full thank of gas? Fill up their tank. Do you know a Momma who could use a break from the daily routine with her kids? Offer to babysit. Living this life of servanthood will ultimately create a heart that is cultivated by gratitude. The one who gives is actually receiving.
5. Let go of offenses
There is nothing that can hold you back more from a life of gratitude than unforgiveness in your heart. Is the offenses you are holding onto really worth it? Is the jealousy in your heart worth it? Is the grudge you are holding worth it? Unforgiveness is a prison you have put yourself into. I literally picture chains holding you down from truly receiving the joy and gratitude you could have. It causes not only depression but a number of other medical issues. Friends, might I challenge you to let go and let love lead.
6. Stop the negative
It is so easy to complain about the things. In fact, most people find it easier to complain because it has become apart of our daily way of life. I find most of my complaints these days are because I am tired, I am stressed or something doesn’t feel good. What if we practiced holding our tongue when a negative comment comes into our mind? It won’t be easy friends but in the long run, it will be worth it.
I certainly don’t claim to know it all but I do know that cultivating a heart of gratitude can change your whole way of life. It can bring so much joy and positivity to you and those around you. It could save someone self destruction, it could save a marriage that may not see an end to their struggles, it could save a heart that is dark and depressed. Gratitude is the key to joy and love. Why wouldn’t we want to practice and cultivate such a life?
“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of gratitude.” A.A. Milne
I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving. This year may look different for some but I encourage you to practice cultivating a heart of gratitude in this season and then living it going forward. I hope you will use a few of my tips over this next week and that you may see the fruits of your hard work come about in forms of joy, happiness and thankfulness.