These are challenging days for most, if not, in fact, all! Challenges come in all sizes and shapes. Folks experience spiritual, financial, emotional, relational, and health difficulties, to name just a few. Discouragement and disagreement seem nearly viruslike. Just watch the news, or give a cursory glance at social media, and you will discover many are unhappy and it is all someone else’s fault. Indeed I know I have contributed to someone’s unhappiness; decisions I have made or a few poor choices down through the years have caused myself and others some unhappiness. In this new season of my life, I work daily on not giving in to the spirit of the age of becoming angry and bitter, As a person of routines, I have developed or at least taken to making sure I do four things every day that help to develop in me a spirit of gratitude. Allow me to share the four, they are not original with me, and I pray they will be as helpful to you as they have for me.
Be Thankful Just this little statement changes the way I look at things. You see, I do not deserve anything! Everything I have is a gift from a loving Heavenly Father. We all experience tragedies and sadness in life. I have, and so have you. I am thankful that though emotions, sadness, etc., sometimes overcome us, we can still stop and remind ourselves to be thankful. There is more to be thankful for, and that thought alone can change my feelings. I am not talking about times of grief and loss and the setbacks that come to all; I am speaking about how I become somewhat like what I think about and dwell on all day. Just simply reminding myself, especially when other attitudes start crowding out my peace, I remind myself to be thankful.
Make a gratitude list At times, I need prompts! I include this as a part of my journaling exercise. I write down things for which I am grateful. Just focusing on blessings encourages me. Try keeping a list of the things that make you smile with appreciation, which will help you through the day.
Start and end your day with gratitude. Allow gratitude and thankfulness to bookend your day. I have found some real encouragement by making gratitude one of my day’s first and last thoughts. This activity allows me some say in the attitude I will carry with me throughout the day. It also helps me to have a way of ending my day with praise and thanksgiving.
As I practice gratitude, I see it has the power to change my attitude. I know relationships and circumstances impact us all, but I am not powerless. I have the Lord with me, and I can change my perspective by changing my focus to gratitude. There are still concerns I have, things that, given enough time, will sound alarm bells in my head and heart. I am not talking about ignoring problems that need to be solved or things we can do to improve the world. I refuse to allow my mind to be captured by the negativity around me and the problems I am dealing with at present to define who I am.
I close with a word from the Apostle Paul, writing from a Roman prison.
“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness”. — Colossians 2:6
Why not practice gratitude for a few days or a week. See if you will notice the difference.