“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Some days it’s easy to be thankful, but some days it can be much harder, don’t you think?
Today is one of those easy days. We’re just back from a three week holiday, and everything is going well. Right now it feels like nothing can break my chill.
But what about those other kind of days? What about those days when it’s raining and grey, when the kids are ill, and you haven’t slept well?
What about those days full of leaking washing machines, never ending chores and flat tyres on the car? Because I have literally had all of those days recently too!
And on those days it can be so easy to start feeling discouraged and like there’s not much to be thankful for.
But the truth is that whenever I really stop to think about it, even on the very worst of days, there is still so much that I have to be grateful for.
I have plenty of food to eat, clothes to wear, a loving family, a job that provides me with financial security, a car to get me around, a home that provides me with warmth and shelter, I have my health, I have friends … the list could simply go on and on and on.
Maybe this is why the Bible encourages to give thanks in all circumstances.
God isn’t insecure.
He doesn’t need our gratitude and praise… but I wonder if maybe He knows that we need it though?
The truth is that practising gratitude and thankfulness does us so much good. It changes our perspective. It lifts our spirits. It re-centres our focus on the things that matter, and it makes us better to be around.
Why I am praticising gratitude
Being thankful in every circumstance isn’t something that always feels very natural to practice – especially not at first.
In fact, on those more difficult kinds of days, if I’m honest, often my first and most natural inclination is to want to curse and complain about how unfair everything is …
But choosing thankfulness is something I am increasingly training myself to do, because I know that when I do, I reap the benefits of feeling happier and more content – even when I face an area of disappointment or frustration or lack.
And not only that, those around me get to reap the benefits too.
5 ways to practice conscious gratitude
This is not exhaustive but here are five simple ideas that I have been pursuing recently to help me grow in thankfulness and the practice of a more conscious level of gratitude.
1. Writing gratitude lists or keeping a gratitude journal
If you’re anything like me, you might find writing things down really helps to focus the mind… you could even consider making this a regular, daily practice by using a gratitude journal or just noting things you’re grateful for, as and when you notice them, somewhere like on your phone.
Ultimately it doesn’t matter how or when you record these things, only that you regularly do. You’ll be amazed how much your perspective begins to change when you intentional choose to count your blessings.
2. Sharing the good more than the bad.
So many people speak negatively and tend to share more with others when they have a complaint or when something goes wrong.
So, why not practice sharing about your blessings with family and friends instead? Not in a boastful way, but simply in a way that acknowledges that you have been blessed?
3. Speaking out your thankfulness in prayer
So often my prayer life has focused on asking God for things, but lately I have tried to spend longer thanking him for what I already have instead. For me, it’s a subtle but important shift.
And if you don’t pray, you could try creating some kind of daily thankfulness mantra or commitment to yourself too.
4. Reading and meditating on scriptures and art that inspire thanksgiving.
I find that many of the psalms are often a great place to start if you’re looking for inspiration in the Bible.
But also, why not look for other examples of where gratitude exists in the world as well- in music, art, literature, daily life, or amongst people you see and know?
5. Choosing to be around positive people
One of the most soul sapping things is to be around people who always moan and complain. So as much as is possible, choose to surround yourself with thankful, positive people instead.
Allow them to become ‘gratitude mentors’ to you. Because although negativity is catching, so equally is being around positivity too.
If you have any other thoughts about this article or any other successful practices for improving gratitude that you have used too, I’d love to hear about them. You can contact me through my blog at http://www.notesonlifebyannakettle.com