Now that the official Thanksgiving holiday and weekend is past, it’s easy to revert back to the routine of ungratefulness. We pause for one day to express our gratitude and thankfulness for all the ways we have been blessed. Yet, we can easily slip into grumbling and mumbling as we scurry to find just the right Christmas gift at the deeply discounted sale price that is just right for our over-stretched budget.
The longer I live, the more I’m convinced that gratitude is the answer to almost every problem we face. Think about it, gratitude can transform anxiety, anger, discontent, greed and depression. Gratitude may not change your circumstance, but it can change you and me. However, when gratitude transforms us, it may possibly change our circumstance.
I love what a Benedictine monk, Brother David Steindl-Rast said, “You think this is just another day. It’s not just another day. It’s the one day that is given to you today….It’s the only gift that you have right now. And the only appropriate response is gratefulness.” Wow, as I’m a week out from my sixtieth birthday, that’s exactly how I want to live each and every day of the rest of my life. Maybe we would live this way if we saw today as the first day of our life—or our last.
Here are some things I’m finding helpful and I suggest them to you as we seek to live each day with gratitude:
Notice life around you. Most everything can be awe-inspiring if you pay attention. Whether it is the natural beauty of a flower, the aeronautical marvel of a bird in flight, a sunrise, a sunset, the interesting people you encounter at an unexpected moment, or the simple beating of your own heart—life is a gift. Notice it. Tune in to it. Enjoy it.
Receive everything as a gift. It’s so easy to feel entitled and become cynical when we don’t get what we want or feel we deserve. I’m trying to intentionally receive everything as a gift. Each day is a gift. Each person is a gift (that’s not always an easy one to practice). Each challenge is an opportunity. Each blessing received is more than I deserve. God’s grace is all important. It’s not about me but all about Him.
Express gratitude often. This is one of the things that makes us humans unique and sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom. We can express and articulate our gratitude. But honestly, we have to speak it to experience the power of it. Find ways to say it often.
Bless someone else. Let your gratefulness overflow into the lives of those you encounter today. It doesn’t have to be fancy—just offer them a smile, a touch, a kind word, a simple expression of thanks or the simple gift of your presence. You should have seen the face of the young floor-mopper outside the restroom at the local grocery store the other day when I thanked him for keeping everything so clean. He thanked me for thanking him. Gratitude inspires gratitude.
One of the best recent books I’ve read that inspired me toward more gratitude is by Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. Read it. Give it to someone as a gift.
Think about it. Today will never be repeated. It is unique among all the days of your life. Live it with gratitude.
QUESTION: What have I missed that helps you to live with gratitude? Please share below.