Gratitude is a conviction, a practice, and a discipline. It’s an essential nutrient, a kind of spiritual amino acid for human growth, creativity, and joy. Gratitude involves channeling your energy and attention toward what is present and working rather than what’s absent and ineffective.
If gratitude is so vital, why isn’t everybody doing it?
The reason is that gratitude is both a skill and a feeling. It is a choice and a reaction. Several common blockages may water down your capability to appreciate your blessings to the fullest. Each of them can leave you feeling deficient. When you are alert to these gratitude blockages, you can minimize their influence so they will not obstruct your potential for joy. Here are two examples:
1. Excessive “noise.”
By this I am referring to the sheer bombardment of life. The constant connection to commitments, obligations, and looming deadlines via mobile phones and e-mail keeps us preoccupied with urgency. Think about it: How often do you receive a call on your cell phone regarding one of your long-term goals? How often do you receive an e-mail that reminds you to appreciate your spouse or invest more time with your kids? Very rarely. Those tools of convenience and efficiency are designed to help you react quickly to the immediate demands of the day, not to take action on your most important values.
2. Overexposure to the media.
Watching excessive television and “over-reading” the newspaper tends to remind us of what’s not going well in the world. On the other hand, it provides plenty of material to pray about. Do you agree that the profusion of media sources seems to provide an avalanche of information but a clear deficit of wisdom? Watching the news exposes us to lots of problems but very few solutions. I don’t know the answer, but how much news do we really need? It is worth pondering.
This doesn’t mean that to be grateful you’ve got to get rid of your TV or stop reading the newspaper, but you could cut back a little and see if it makes the positive difference for you that it has made for many of my clients. Try it and judge by the results. Often, when you decrease your intake of current events and other timely exposures and increase your ingestion of timeless materials, the result is a palpable difference in your outlook.
Gratitude is like a mental gearshift that takes you from turbulence to peacefulness, from stagnation to creativity. Gratitude brings you back to the present moment, to all that is working well in your life right now. Gratitude is the cornerstone of an unstoppable attitude. And gratitude can be cultivated and then experienced at ever-deepening levels.
Learn how to practice gratitude and experience the joy God intended for you. The Summer Joy 40 Day Joy Challenge is an online course that produces better habits, stronger relationships, and greater joy in less than 9 minutes a day. Sign up to begin your journey here.