Gratitude is such a personal endeavor. It’s so tailored to who each of us are as individuals.
“gratitude is a feeling of being thankful and appreciative. An example of gratitude is how someone would feel if their friend did something exceptionally nice for them.” Webster’s
Some 30 years ago, during a difficult time in my life, I had a friend give me a small book on gratitude. It talked about being grateful for all things, the good and the bad. It spoke of praising God when life goes well, as surely as when it goes a-rye.
But why should we be grateful when times are tough? Why should we take the time to bless those moments when sadness, shame and pain dwells in our hearts? Why give thanks when a moment is best left alone?
Because gratitude is a bit like the story of the loaves and fishes in the Bible. Jesus blessed the few loaves the crowd brought, together with only a serving of fish. When blessed, their lack fed the entire crowd. You see, gratitude multiplies gratitude. When we give thanks for what we have, it returns to use fourfold. God, in all His splendor waits for us to bless that which we have been given in order for Him to bless the blessing.
For me it was that 10 days after moving into my new home, 3 states away from family and friends, I fell and broke my ankle. I knew in the moment I fell, if I didn’t thank God for the fall and for the break, that my trouble would multiply.
Because of that small book, years ago, I’ve become so conditioned to be thankful especially in moments where I fail, that it was an automatic gesture. And, in that moment, help was waiting. My children and my family were just waiting for the opportunity to help. I was so blessed by their efforts, that to this day, I would do it all over again. I blessed God, in all his wisdom, and they blessed me in all of His. It didn’t require surgery and I was able to put weight on that leg almost immediately. A total of 3 weeks later and I was in a hiking boot!
Jack Canfield, a popular speaker and author of several books gives us a screenplay to follow on our path to gratitude. In his own words below we can begin to pattern our days after these 6 small steps.
1. Take 7 minutes each morning to write down everything you appreciate in life
Starting your day this way primes you to be receptive and grateful for everything your day will bring. It also helps you cultivate an air of positivity that makes you naturally more attractive to other positive people – and inspires them to want to help you achieve your goals.
2. Make a conscious effort to appreciate at least 3 people every day
By letting people know how much you appreciate them, you increase their own sense of appreciation and self-worth and encourage them to pay this positive energy forward to other people.
3. Play the appreciation game
Set a specific time each day to consciously appreciate everything you encounter. An ideal time to do this is on your way to or from work. Appreciate the people you pass, the road you walk on, the cars that let you merge into a different lane, the street signs that make it easy for you to know where you’re going, the rain that’s nourishing the plants and trees, and so on.
4. Carry a physical token of gratitude in your pocket, such as a heart-shaped stone, crystal, or some other small item
A physical reminder can bring you back to your daily habit practice of gratitude when your mind has drifted elsewhere. As you reach into your pocket throughout the day and feel the token, use it as a reminder to stop, breathe and take a moment to fully experience the emotion of gratitude. The more conscious effort you put into seeking it out, the easier it will be to find it – and the more powerful your experience will be.
5. Remember to appreciate the smallest blessings
The best way to activate your gratitude is by acknowledging the gifts most people take for granted.
Celebrate these simple blessings. These daily conveniences are gifts that most people in the world do not enjoy.
6. Appreciate yourself
Please take a moment to share at least 1 thing for which you’re grateful for in the comments. Even the smallest act of gratitude will have a positive impact on your life!