Living a life of gratitude is something we all aim for… to a point. We try to say please and thank you to the person waiting our table, or thank God with a smile when we see a sunny day after weeks of rain… yet, are we truly living a life of gratitude?
What Is 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, if we explore the meaning of ‘thankful’ in the same dictionary, it is being, “conscious of benefit received,” “expressive of thanks,” and “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 in all we do.
For instance, we rarely are truly thankful every day for air conditioning or heating until it goes out… or the sound of birds outside… the smell of warm grass. In fact, we can even begin to focus on the negatives surrounding us—ignoring the positives that come beside them. For instance, a hot summer may not be your personal ideal, yet in it we may find the ability to spend time with family, explore nature, get a tan, eat fresh fruit, etc. These few examples may not be to every person’s preference, nor even an option for many 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.
Choosing a Life of Gratitude and Understanding the Benefits:
The choice to live a life of gratitude may not come naturally for all of us. Our upbringing plays its role, our personal view of the world too. Then, of course, there are the circumstances surrounding us. It is not always easy, but it is not without benefits.
Living a life of gratitude opens doors. It allows MANY good things to happen in and to us:
- Increased thankfulness
- Joy in every situation
- Respect and cherishing of those around us
- A closer relationship with God as we become more like Him
- The ability to laugh at the days to come
- Leveling of blood pressure
- Increased energy
- A greater sense of expectation as we realize all the blessings that are already ours
- Childlike wonder
- Decreases jealousy
- Helps to remove the ‘chore-like’ feeling of many tasks
- It fights depression
- Opens up a world of possibilities
- Allows us to see the world more like our Father does
- 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, 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
How Do I Live in Gratitude?
We are meant to live lives of joy, to be at peace no matter the circumstance… but when we look around 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, seedling, or tree, nurturing it as you work toward its growth and sustainment.
Yet, what are we to do after we seek Him and ask for the gift of gratitude? Are we meant to just 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 and praise. Then, we can begin to seek out ways to live a life of gratitude in every situation—and not all require a Bible app…
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 anything else 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 our Father God, if we would but have eyes to see. And we are meant to spread that light. To show the world what a life of gratitude is.
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, compliment someone’s work, or simply enjoy a deep breath, we are becoming more grateful. We are becoming the best version of ourselves.
“…singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ…”—Ephesians 5:19-20
Living a life of gratitude is filled with untold benefits—physical, emotional, and even spiritual—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 begin to mirror 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 gives benefits not only to us, but to everyone around us—from strangers, to our children, parents, friends, and beyond.
That gift of gratefulness grows exponentially too. For when we begin to live in gratitude, everyone we come in contact with witnesses the change. We become more patient, kind, giving, joyful… and those acts, those changes in behavior, well, they grow in the hearts of those who see and feel them. They see the light of God shining brightly through us.
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”—Matthew 5:16
Soon enough we have altered not only ourselves, but our friends, family, and even strangers for the better. They then, beginning to live a life of gratitude, shine God’s light too, causing those in THEIR circle to change. It is the seed growing into a tree which not only bears fruit, but seed for a future tree… a future harvest.
It is the pebble that starts an avalanche.
“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