My wife recently upgraded to the new iPhone 5. Compared to her old iPhone 3Gs, it’s chock-full of genius technological advancements. From voice-guided GPS to personal assistant Siri answering every imaginable inquiry, it will do almost anything—short of making her morning coffee and bringing it to her nightstand. I still get to do that. Only in America, would we read and watch reviews that talk about the “Five Things Wrong with the iPhone 5” with complaints that include, “it feels too light and too thin.” It seems to me that we live in a culture that lacks an attitude of gratitude.
My dear friend Tony Hostetler who died at age 89½ last week, taught me to live every day with gratitude. It could be attributed to Tony growing up on an Amish farm in Ohio where hard work, no electricity and horse-drawn carriages and farm implements were the norm. But I don’t think so. I’ve been spiritually mentored by Tony for nearly 27 years and I believe his gratitude comes from so much more than the environment of the first 18 years of his life.
Tony taught me that gratitude comes from daily reflecting on God’s grace, goodness and provision. It was such a consistent pattern of his life for so many years that it didn’t matter that his body was fading and he was under the care of hospice in his final weeks. Everyone who went to visit Tony in the hospital, hospice or assisted living, walked away being encouraged and inspired. Gratitude just seeped out of his pores.
Experiencing and expressing gratitude is an important part of a healthy life at every age—especially as we mature. There are benefits. Gratitude opens the heart and activates positive emotions centers in the brain. Regular practice of gratitude can change the way our brain neurons fire into more positive automatic patterns. The positive emotions can sooth distress and broaden our thinking patterns so we develop a larger and more expansive view of our lives. Gratitude is an emotion of connectedness, which reminds us we are not in this world all alone.
Here are a few things that might help you get started in experiencing more gratitude:
- Deliberately meditate today on all the things in your life that God has blessed you with.
- Write out a gratitude list this week.
- The holidays are a great time to express your gratitude to friends and family via cards, actions or gifts.
- Serve some one in need on a regular basis by volunteering one hour a week.
- Be intentionally generous with your time, talent and treasure for the next 90 days.
I want to live my life with more gratitude. It’s easier for me to complain than to be thankful. I’m going to make my list right now.
QUESTION: What is one thing you have tried that helps you increase your gratitude? Please share your comment below.