Gratitude is the supreme mental habit of appreciating our blessings. And whatever we appreciate with our thoughts, grows in our awareness. In other words, the more we give thanks, the more we notice that we have a lot to be grateful for. Gratitude, after all, is the singular mindset that most accurately symbolizes 4:8 thinking and most dramatically produces the joy-filled life experience.
When we feel grateful, it does not mean our life is great or everything we desire it to be. Rather, it means that we have been harboring thoughts of appreciation for the good we currently do have in our life. On the flip side, when we feel deficient or incomplete, it doesn’t mean our life is awful. Instead, it means only that we have been recently dwelling on the missing pieces, often to the exclusion of what is present.
Gratitude is a conviction, a practice, and a discipline. It’s an essential nutrient for the soul, sort of like a spiritual amino acid for human growth, creativity and joy. Gratitude involves channeling our energy and attention toward what is present and working rather than what’s absent and frustrating. Much like a mental gearshift, gratitude delivers us from turbulence to peacefulness, from stagnation to creativity.
Fortunately, we were not born with an attitude of gratitude. Nor were we born with the cheap attitude of entitlement. This “owe-me” attitude fuels the notion that someone or some group is in perpetual debt to us. This toxic mindset can infect a family, an organization, and even a whole country. Whether we feel grateful or entitled , however, depends entirely on how we have learned to interpret what is going on around us. The Greek philosopher Epictetus said, “He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not but rejoices for those which he has.”
I was discussing gratitude with by older boys earlier this week and I emphasized the importance of going beyond simple, verbal “thank you’s” and demonstrating appreciation in the way they live and give and how they interact with the most important (and least important) people in their life. In relationships, especially, it is essential to learn both how to experience and express gratitude. It’s easier than ever to get so wrapped up in our own predicaments that we lose perspective and take for granted the goodness that still surrounds us.
Are you ready for a Thanksgiving binge? Let me rephrase…This Thanksgiving, eat lightly, but give freely and appreciate deeply. You’ll be very glad you did. Then make it a daily discipline all year long. To make this easier, play my GRATITUDE GAME to trigger extra thoughts.
How are you going to become and stay an extremely grateful person? Join the conversation and share your thoughts here.