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Gratitude is a term that gets tossed around a lot, but what really is gratitude and what does it look like when practiced? Webster defines gratitude as “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” Are you thankful for what you have?
It’s not the happy people who are thankful, it’s the thankful people who are happy.
While that quote holds quite a bit of truth, the simplicity of it annoys me. When you get down to it, I think most of us are probably pretty thankful for many things in our lives, whether we are happy or not. What really separates the happy from the miserable is not the actual act or emotion of being thankful, its intentional action of living blessed.
Often people confuse happiness or contentment with a bubbly personality. I’ve been accused of being negative, and pressured to try to change my personality when in fact, I’m not a negative person at all. I’m very analytical and realistic, which are unique gifts that God has equipped me with. When I come up against a difficult situation, I am able to look logically at the situation and formulate a plan to walk through it instead of falling apart. Actually, I think I am more aware of how blessed I truly am BECAUSE of my personality. So let’s get that out of the way – gratitude and happiness have nothing to do with personality.
To me living with a spirit of thankfulness and gratitude has a lot more to do with intentional actions than feelings and emotions. Being aware and cognizant of the blessings in our lives, as well as being able to analyze situations to see the “blessing in disguise” can be learned behaviors. Today I am going to share with you a perfect first step to living a life of gratitude and contentment.
This is a topic with a lot of layers, and I am not getting into all of them today, but one of the best ways to reword your thinking and habits is by writing things down. I consistently forget to take my vitamins, but once I started tracking them in my planner it has become second nature to get up and take them first thing in the morning. Writing things down is also a great way to reflect and analyze your story later.
There are a million gratitude journals out there, but most just have you listing a few things you are grateful for that day. I think this process can be beneficial for some, but for me I needed a better way to unpack my day and really meditate on the blessings. I came up with this printable gratitude journal page that can be printed out and added to a binder or planner that has drastically changed the way I see the blessings in my life. Click the image below to download your copy.
What Happened Today
Some days your head hits the pillow with great satisfaction. And some days your mind is swirling with problems. No matter how badly your day went, get it on paper. Once its out of your head and on paper you can look at the situation more logically and no doubt pick out some reasons to be grateful. Write it all down, good, bad, or other. Don’t sugarcoat it because thats not authentic.
How Did I Live Grateful
True thankfulness emanates out in our lives and actions, so think about how you paid it forward today. This is the area where you will see the biggest change in your life from this journaling project because you will be so much more aware of how you are treating others. Being kind and giving to others is contagious because it feels amazing, and snowballs into gratefulness!
The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord. – Job 1:21
I believe a key to being grateful is learning to praise God anyway. God is good, all the time. So no matter what storms are happening in your life, worship him anyway. Some days the only thing you may have to be thankful for is the goodness of God. Establishing a regular habit of intentional worship, no matter what your situation is, takes your eyes off the here and now and makes it a lot easier to be grateful. Use this section to write out a passage of worship. Whether it is thanking God for specific blessings or just acknowledging his goodness and power.
I challenge you to do this for 30 days, and see if your attitude has changed. It will only take 5 or 10 minutes at night to fill out the printable, but I suspect it may lead into a deeper session of prayer and introspection. I can’t wait for you to join me on this journey of living a life of gratitude.