A lot of disciplines make their way to the forefront of Christian discussions regarding how to become more like Jesus. The majority of them revolve around such things as prayer, Bible reading, and fellowship with others.
What gets overlooked too often is developing a sense of gratitude within our daily practices.
Gratitude is powerful, and it can make your life better in so many ways. It’s quite difficult to feel sad or sorry for yourself when you are feeling gratitude.
Most of us have all heard the word "gratitude." It refers to the quality of being thankful and a readiness to accept kindness as well as to reciprocate it. It’s a form of life satisfaction.
Christians can be distinguished by displaying a general attitude of gratitude in the face of trials and blessings throughout life. When we’re feeling gratitude, we’re not giving power to negative thoughts and negative emotions.
So to help with your gratitude practice, we’ve outlined six simple ways to practice gratitude daily.
Gratitude is an emotion similar to appreciation. This practice of giving thanks, even in times of challenge and change, can greatly benefit us in many ways.
But before we get into those benefits, let’s take a look at what gratitude truly means. The actual definition for gratitude in the dictionary is the quality of being thankful, a readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
This wording describes a very interesting trait, the quality of thankfulness. Being able to show gratitude and return kindness.
It isn't just the feeling of gratitude; it’s also the quality of that emotion. And through that emotion, you return kindness to others.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, the Bible says, "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." Based on how the Bible talks about gratitude, it's God's will for us to give thanks for what we have in life.
A life of gratitude encourages us to acknowledge everything that is already abundantly available to us. It is important to admire the tiniest things, as well as the largest blessings. In doing so, remember that nothing must be taken for granted.
By focusing on and acknowledging life as a gift, we can teach ourselves that life truly is a gift.
No matter how challenging our lives become, the practice of gratitude keeps us aware of the opportunities that are always there.
In Colossians 3:15, the Bible says, "And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful."
While we may not have as many blessings as others, we can always return to a sense of gratitude for God’s love. Through the difficult times, we can find peace in Christ.
Imagine you give someone a gift for their birthday.
It took a lot of time and effort to find just the right gift, and you really hope the person will like it. At last, they open it and express overwhelming amounts of gratitude while running to hug you.
Doesn’t feeling appreciated feel good?
Now imagine you’re the person who expresses gratitude for every situation in your life.
There’s more to gratitude than perhaps first meets the eye. Yet, there’s no doubt that counting your blessings has a multitude of positive effects, including being able to cultivate loving feelings and happiness.
According to positive psychology, over 90% of American teens and adults indicated that expressing gratitude made them “extremely happy” or “somewhat happy.”
When you feel grateful, it also increases dopamine in your brain. Dopamine is a chemical in your brain that makes you feel good. As a result, the more gratitude you feel, the more your dopamine levels will go up, and the more you’ll find things to be thankful for.
Since gratitude is a social emotion, the social benefits are especially significant. Relationships are strengthened by gratitude because the feeling requires us to see how other people support and affirm us.
It’s an affirmation of goodness. We affirm what is good in the world, the gifts we have received, and the benefits provided.
This is not to say that life is perfect; it doesn’t disregard people’s complaints, burdens, and stresses. Nevertheless, gratitude encourages us to look at our lives as a whole and identify the good things we experience.
One of the most powerful emotions is gratitude, which can make your life much better in so many ways. It’s hard to feel sorry for oneself when one is feeling grateful.
Summed up, some of the top benefits of gratitude are:
But how do we cultivate these feelings and use them to better our lives?
A lot of people may feel that practicing gratitude must be a grand gesture. But in actuality, it can be something as simple as saying a prayer of thanks before a meal or simply saying thanks to someone who helped you out.
There are many ways to practice gratitude every day. If you would like to experience some of the great benefits of practicing gratitude, try some of these simple ways to make gratitude a regular part of your life.
Here are six daily gratitude practices that you can implement in your life today.
Mindfulness means paying attention to what we’re doing and becoming fully present with what’s around us. It’s the complete opposite of becoming reactive or overwhelmed by life events. But instead, we remain aware of our thoughts and feelings while these events happen.
Each individual already possesses this quality, so all you have to do is learn how to access it.
One way to harness mindfulness is by practicing meditation. With meditation, the mind focuses only on the present moment without experiencing judgment. Although people often focus on a word or phrase like “peace,” it’s also possible to focus on what you're grateful for.
You can also use this opportunity to do a gratitude prayer. Give thanks to God for all of the blessings He has bestowed upon you and your family members’ lives.
People often complain about not having enough time. Some days we begin to feel as if time is passing too quickly, and we may never have enough of it.
But in order to fully feel the benefits of gratitude, we need to be consistent when we practice it.
Practice gratitude at the same time each day. Take a moment during the day to note everything you are grateful for.
You can even carve out a specific time before bed where you spend 10 minutes in prayer and give thanks.
Nowadays, thanks to smartphones and tablets, the easiest way for you to cultivate a gratitude ritual is to set a reminder for your gratitude practice.
A great way to implement gratitude into your daily life is by gratitude journaling. Make it a habit to write down or share the gifts you've received each day.
Alternatively, create a daily gratitude list where you write down five things that you’re grateful for. Be as specific as possible, and remember, there’s no wrong way to do it.
Something else to keep in mind is to subtract instead of just adding. Think about how your life would be without certain people and things. This will help you get a handle on the impact these individuals and things have on your life, which makes it far easier to express gratitude.
Being grateful for the people around you has more of an impact on your life than being grateful for possessions.
Additionally, consider the negative outcomes you avoided, prevented, or turned into a positive outcome. Don’t take them for granted.
A great way to keep gratitude at the forefront of your mind is by posting gratitude notes or Bible verses around the house.
Gratitude messages are, put simply, expressions of appreciation.
For example, one form of a gratitude message is simply posting a note of gratitude to a family member. Or, it may be an expression of recognition of something that someone in your family has done for you. Think of it as a gratitude letter.
In addition, you can make a family gratitude jar, where everyone in your family can add notes and read them at the end of each week.
Gratitude messages can have powerful effects on the grateful individual as well as the recipient.
There are also a number of great Bible verses involving gratitude that you can put around the house.
One great verse from the Bible is 2 Corinthians 2:14, "But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere."
A great way to think ahead of your gratitude is by making a collage. This is a practice that your family can do together at the beginning of the year or even during the holidays and reference daily.
It can be anything you make it, pictures of family, Bible verses, religious imagery, etc. One way to create a gratitude collage is by making a square grid with phrases, as well as drawings.
On the first column of squares, finish the sentences by writing what you're thankful for. Then on the second, use markers or crayons to draw what you're thankful for.
It’s a great way to visualize gratefulness and keep it at the forefront of your mind. Place the collage somewhere in the house where everyone in the family can see it. You can even put it on a corkboard so you can keep adding to it.
Another way to express gratitude for everything you have is by helping someone else who’s less fortunate.
This can be a daily or weekly practice where you go out and help a friend, family member, or someone in your community.
Since we are living through a pandemic, there are plenty of people in the world right now who could use some help.
Helping others is a great way to feel grateful for all of the blessings in your own life. When we feel grateful for what we have, we’re more likely to want to spread that love to others.
People who give back to others in the community have been shown to have a greater appreciation for things they might otherwise take for granted. It can also encourage gratitude in others while making a positive impact on your community.