Have you ever wished you had something so much, and been so focused on attaining it, you were miserable?
Many times, we can’t be thankful for what we have because we’re so focused on what we’re lacking. And sometimes, when we want something we don’t have and can’t seem to get, we’re not only sad, we’re mad. At times like these, many withdraw from God and complain to anyone who will listen. But when you stop to think beyond selfish desires, there is always something for which to be grateful.
Unrecognized Sources of Gratitude
We have many forms of freedom in our country—among them, the right to gather, to have privacy, to travel, to express our opinions, to worship God. Religious liberty was one of the main tenets on which our country was founded, yet we rarely think about or express gratitude for freedom of religion. Increasingly, there are those in America who are working toward stripping us of religious freedoms. Unless we value the freedom to worship, talk about our faith, stand firm in our beliefs, and speak out against religious oppression, we will lose the freedom to worship God openly.
Shelter and Food
For most of us, having a place to get out of the weather and a bed to sleep in are non-issues. We don’t have to scavenge for food or go for several days without eating. Food and shelter are things we enjoy every day, yet many struggle to have a constant source of either.
In many countries, children and teens are sold into slavery to provide a little money for the family and eliminate one more mouth to feed. While this seems unbelievable to us, it happens. Being part of a family unit where there is no fear of this type of occurrence reminds us to be grateful for the love, protection, and provision of family. Make sure your family members know they are loved and appreciated. Affirm your loved ones and express gratitude to them often.
Do you have friends you cherish? Sometimes, geographic distances, misunderstandings, or a change in circumstances, cause us to lose touch with friends. But friends are a gift and friendships are worth putting forth effort to maintain. Tell friends you are thankful for the relationships you share.
Recently, a friend stated, “Be thankful for your health. You don’t realize what a blessing health is until you have medical issues.” Often we take our health for granted, expecting our bodies to function as they were designed to, yet not caring for them as we should. Small changes in diet, lifestyle choices, and increased exercise can make a big difference in maintaining health. Yes, be grateful for your health, but also, take steps to ensure you remain healthy.
Grateful for the Absence of Something
Have you ever thought about being grateful for things we don’t have? That may sound odd, but sometimes things or situations that look appealing and shiny from afar come with unseen issues. For example, you can be thankful we don’t have the relationship problems that seem to go hand in hand with great wealth, or deal with paparazzi lurking outside your house, or battle chronic illness or live with constant pain. Sometimes our greatest blessings come in the form of the absence of something.
Ways to Grow in Gratitude
Practice speaking gratitude – If you are not in the habit of thanking God and others, practice expressing gratitude. Thank God every time you pray, even if it is just one sentence or a phrase. Thank others verbally, via text message, email, or a handwritten note. A good place to begin practicing gratitude is within your own family.
Be specific when giving thanks – Don’t just say “thank you.” State a specific reason for your gratitude. “I really appreciate how you affirm me.” “Thank you for being available when I needed you most.”
Start a gratitude journal – Sometimes we do a better job giving thanks when we write our gratitude. Get a simple notebook (it doesn’t have to be a fancy leather-bound journal) and begin recording a list of people, things, or circumstances for which you are grateful. Look up scripture (Psalms is a good place to start) that speaks about thankfulness and record verses in your journal. Before long, gratitude will become an attitude of your heart.
Recondition Your Mind – We live in a culture that focuses on criticism and negativity. To counteract gravitating toward those thought patterns, you have to make a conscious effort to look for and see sources of gratitude, and then express thanks. Open your mind and heart to grateful living. Acknowledge your creator. Express thanks daily, not just one day a year. In doing so, you enhance forward motion.
“Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind.” Psalm 107:8 NIV
Candy Arrington is a writer, blogger, speaker, and freelance editor. She often writes on tough topics with a focus on moving beyond difficult life circumstances. Candy has written hundreds of articles, stories, and devotionals published by numerous outlets including: Inspiration.org, Arisedaily.com, CBN.com, Healthgrades.com, Care.com, Focus on the Family, NextAvenue.org, CountryLiving.com, and Writer’s Digest. Candy’s books include When Your Aging Parent Needs Care (Harvest House) and AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B&H Publishing Group).
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