For a long time growing up, I found it difficult to automatically offer an “I’m sorry” and “thank you” at appropriate times. I don’t know why exactly (*ahem*, pride and stubbornness), it just never came naturally to me to be an effusively grateful person. At some point I recognized this, and that it was a problem.
We all like to be thanked, right? I think a lot of us at some point or another don’t feel like the effort we put into our mundane everyday lives is recognized or responded to with gratitude. Whether you’re behind a desk, under loads of laundry, beside the operating table, or sitting at an easel, we generally appreciate when our effort is recognized. But how often does that actually happen? For most of us, not often.
That can be annoying. But honestly, it’s reality. We can’t make people recognize everything we do. And if we expect that, letting other people dictate the worth of our days, it leads to quite a grumpy existence. You’ve probably heard that life is more about how we respond to what happens in our lives than the specifics of what happens, and I firmly believe that.
We can rarely change the sometimes difficult circumstances we live through. But we can choose to cultivate gratitude in our lives, which makes all the difference.
When I started realizing all this a few years ago, and that I needed to work on it, I decided to find a way to start growing more grateful habits. As I’ve done with forming other good habits (like exercising), it kinds of started off as forcing myself because I knew I needed to.
I bought a pretty little notebook and started writing down a few things everyday that I’m thankful for. I wrote down the date and at least one thing, sometimes many. It was incredible how intentionally stopping to take stock of my blessings, no matter how small, has gradually transformed my perspective on life. It has slowly grown an attitude of gratitude deep inside. And even though I’m still not an effusive giver of thank-you’s, I do say it sincerely much, much, more often now.
For me, gratitude is much more than going around the table at Thanksgiving to list a couple things (though that’s neat!). It is the choice to say that even if I’m in a hard place, God is good. He does not abandon us. It’s saying “thank you God for all I have” instead of “God, why don’t I have everything I want?”. The pinpricks of annoyance we encounter everyday don’t have to drive us batty. They can drive us deeper and deeper into a life of prayer and trust. Because ultimately, with our eyes fixed on heaven, those pinpricks don’t end up being all that important.
No matter what life throws at us, we can delight in the little ways we find God throughout our days.
So this November, I challenge you to not just list things at Thanksgiving, or do an series of posts on Instagram, but also to start a lifelong habit of finding things to be thankful for everyday. I haven’t written in that notebook for a long time, but now I want to start again.
Do you have a place where you can start intentionally growing a grateful perspective on life? Share with us how you have and want to grow this internal disposition toward life, and how practicing gratitude has changed your life!