Today is the first day of February, which means that I get to share and reflect on my journey with gratitude throughout the month of January!! Can you tell that I am excited?
Before I begin, let me give you some background on my love for gratitude.
My favorite holiday just so happens to be Thanksgiving – is anyone really surprised? It makes my heart swell with happiness and pride when family and friends gather around the table, living room, kitchen, wherever; set aside their shortcomings, their struggles, their bad seasons of life; and just be thankful. Even just talking about it makes my heart so happy and ready for November!
As much as I love Thanksgiving, I am a firm believer that an attitude of gratitude should carry throughout the entire year. If we were to cultivate gratitude in our daily lives, the world would be a much better place. I try to lead a life filled with gratitude; however, I am aware that there are times that I am less than grateful.
In the past month, I have been on a journey to practice gratitude daily. In order to do this, I wrote down three things I am grateful for each day. Again, I am not perfect, so there were days (even weeks, oops!) where I forgot to write down what I was thankful for. However, I always went back and found three things for those days I missed.
As I reflect on this process, I notice several things. First, on days that I remembered and took time to reflect on what I was thankful for, I was much happier. The simple act of writing down three things made a world of difference in my everyday attitude. Next, I realized that practicing gratitude forces us to be more positive individuals. Even on days that seemed less than wonderful, I could find at least three things to be grateful for in my life. On days when you feel less than loved, wanted, appreciated, whatever, you can always find peace in the fact that tomorrow is a new day – oh, what a wonderful thing to be thankful for!!! Last, but certainly not least, as I practiced gratitude, I found it popping up all over the place!
I am currently in my psychology seminar on positive psychology where I get to teach a fifty minute class on gratitude, as well as, write a research paper about gratitude. I know, you probably are wondering why in the world I am excited about that, but I am so excited (and grateful) for the opportunity to further learn about and cultivate this attitude of gratitude and teach it to my peers, too! In this same class, I was asked to take a Values in Action survey to identify my character strengths. My number one strength ended up being gratitude. My goal in the month to come, along with my new year goal, is to continue to utilize that strength in my every day life.
Not only is having an attitude of gratitude important in everyday life, it is something God calls us to have.
Having a Grateful Heart in Scripture "Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever!" -Psalm 107:1 (ESV) "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to and end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul, 'therefore I will hope in Him.'" - Lamentations 3:22-24 (ESV) "I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strenghtens me." - Phillipians 4:12-13 (ESV) "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18