For most of us, we live a life of gratitude… to a point. We try to say please and thank you to the person waiting our table, or see a sunny day after weeks of rain and smile, thanking God for the change… yet, are we truly living a life of gratitude?
Benefits of Gratitude:
The Merriam-Webster dictionary describes gratitude as, “the state of being grateful: thankfulness.” To be grateful essentially is to be thankful, and to be thankful is to act as if every day, and every good thing, is a gift. Or, according to the same dictionary, to be thankful is to be, “conscious of benefit received,” “expressive of thanks,” and being “well pleased: glad.”
To live a life of gratitude is to change the way we view the world around us so that we find thankfulness and joy.
For instance, in the middle of a hot summer we may lose some of our thankfulness for the constant sunshine as the heat begins to overwhelm us. We can start to focus on one or two negatives instead of the wealth of positives something brings. Such as a hot summer brining—for many—the ability to spend time with family, explore nature, get a tan, eat fresh fruit, etc. Yes, not all of these are to our preference or even happen for everyone around the world, but the idea is the same. For every one or two negatives there are dozens of positives—both big and small—but we will not find them if we choose not to. Living a life of gratitude is a choice… one we all have to make.
Yet, the choice to live a life of gratitude is not one without benefits, no matter how difficult it may seem at first. When we live in gratitude MANY good things can happen:
- We can find ourselves being thankful
- We can find joy in every situation
- We can come to respect and cherish those around us
- We can become closer to God and more like Him
- We can laugh at the days to come
- We can find our blood pressure leveling out
- We can find we have more energy
- We can find we humbly expect and receive more of God’s blessings
- We can find ourselves seeing the world with childlike wonder
- AND MANY MORE
Gratitude is a great combater of depression, a finder of joy in all we see, and it is ours if we accept it. Yes, for many of us it may be a challenging gift to receive and something we have to practice, but it is worth every moment spent.
“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.”—Colossians 3:15
I Want to Live a Life of Gratitude… but How?
We are meant to live lives of joy, to be at peace no matter the circumstance… but when we look around us and focus on the bad, how can we? We have to fix our eyes above to see that which is good.
One of the best ways to start living a life of gratitude is to ask God to impart it to you. Yes, He may choose to simply assist you in making the transition instead of planting a fully grown tree of gratitude in your heart, but either way, He WILL help. He WILL plant the seed and nurture it as you work toward its growth.
Yet, what are we meant to do once we seek Him and ask for the gift of gratitude? Are we meant to just sit and wait?
Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”
Once we seek God’s help, we are to focus on those things that are good. His Word being one of the best—only matched by spending time with Him in prayer, praise, and fellowship. Yet, there are ways we can seek a life of gratitude in every situation and not all require a Bible app being handy…
We can take a split second in any situation to simply say hello to God, to fellowship with Him, to compliment His handiwork before us. We can see the beauty of a color God created, a flower, the glint of sun on glass. We can taste the deliciousness of clean water, a savory dish, a sweet dessert. We can smell fresh cut grass, the clean hair of a loved-one, summer rain hitting hot pavement. We can hear the chirping of birds, the tune of our favorite song, laughter. We can touch a soft blanket, the rough hands of a grandparent, the cool of a pebble in a stream… All these and more we can experience and be thankful for, no matter how the circumstances and experiences of our lives may seem.
Yes, trials will come and the world is indeed full of darkness… but it is also full of light. It is filled with the light of God if we would but have eyes to see.
If we take our time opening a gift from man or God, realizing the price, time, and thought that was put into it, our gratefulness increases.
When we put on a clean shirt and stop for just five seconds, thank God and realize how special such a seemingly simple thing is, our gratefulness increases.
It does not have to take forever to implement a life of gratefulness. Every time we take a few seconds to thank God, to pick up what someone in front of us dropped, to enjoy a deep breath, we are becoming more grateful. Yes, all of us, no matter how grateful we may already be, may find that in implementing a life of gratefulness, there will come times or even days where we forget to be thankful. Yet, with every attempt, every positive thought, we are changing. We are changing our lives and the lives of ALL we come in contact with. We can restore that which has been lost… Godly joy, peace, love, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, and self-control. We can become the best version of ourselves.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”—1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Living a life of gratitude is filled with untold benefits ranging from emotional, physical, and even spiritual blessings, yet, perhaps the best benefit is the connection it allows us with our Father. When we focus on the good and find ourselves grateful for it, our minds are transformed to be more like our Father’s. We come closer to His fold.
Just as when we read the Word our minds are renewed, living a life of gratitude renews us, restores us, and keeps us from the ways of the world. It brings us into alignment with God and brings benefits not only to us, but to everyone around us—from strangers, to our children, to our friends, and beyond.
That gift of gratefulness grows exponentially as well. When we accept a life of gratitude we are daily being changed and changing those in our circles. With every kind act we do out of the gratitude in our hearts, there is a chance for the person on the receiving end to find their own seed to a life of gratitude. Soon enough, ten people are blessed by one act of gratitude and kindness you chose to give—then twenty, then forty thousand, fifty million… the world. Like a pebble starting an avalanche.
God can use us to change the world, to be His light. And as we live a life of gratitude, His will becomes our own.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened… Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”—Matthew 7:7-8, 12