The Impact of Gratitude
It may be a cliché, but we’re going to spend November talking about gratitude. I’ve written about gratitude in past Novembers, but I always did it with one eye on Thanksgiving and not with both eyes on all of every day life like I should have. November is a wonderful time to kickstart thinking about gratitude but if we let it go as the turkey wallows in our stomachs, we have rather wasted our time.
Each November is a lovely opportunity to reconnect with our gratitude in such a way that we are able to treat it as a kind of “gratitude new year.” Just as we revive our commitments to various areas of our lives each January, I think that November it’s a wonderful touch stone to have in place to revive our practice of gratitude.
I love this quote from Oprah Winfrey:
“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”
It’s true, isn’t it? When we have a level of contentment with life—not complacency, but contentment—a lot of the stress and anxiety of “leveling up” dissipates.
If it wasn’t so sad I would find it kind of comical the way our society tries to embrace both gratitude and constant discontent. Mainstream shops are full of signs that say things like “choose joy“ and “blessed and thankful” and popular blogs ooze with articles about thankfulness and being present.
But self-help books and TV shows run rife with promises about achieving something, whether it’s organization, enlightenment, the perfect relationship, or even the life changing magic of tidying up, that will finally make life enough. Enjoyable. Whole. That feeling you’ve been looking for is right on the other side of your next achievement.
It’s so worthless. Just like a relationship won’t fulfill you if you are not already fulfilled as a person, cleaning out your sock drawer or getting your dream job will never make a miserable person into a happy one. It just doesn’t work that way.
We control our responses to the situations in front of us. And one of the responses we can choose is gratitude.
Gratitude matters because it allows now to be enough, making joy in the present moment attainable. No longer will our eyes be stuck on the future when what we are finally hoping for will come to be, but they are fixed in the present, where gratitude feeds the grace that God has available to us.
Gratitude allows us to be at rest. And as we get ready for the busiest time of the year for many of us, it’s well worth it to take some time to nurture gratitude and protect our rest.
God deeply desires that we rest. It’s right there in the 10 Commandments when He asked us to keep Sunday holy and set apart. In the spirit of the Old Testament, I don’t think that this is an arbitrary commandment - it gives us what it is that we actually need. God commands rest because as human beings we need to rest. And it’s so much easier to rest if we can be grateful for where we find ourselves and not trying to squeeze in one more day of hustle to try and get ahead (oh boy, #preachingtomyself right here).
This month we’re going to be talking about ways that we can build habits of gratitude that can carry us through this month and beyond. I’d like to start by asking you what your greatest struggle is with gratitude. What is it that makes the daily practice of gratitude easy or hard for you right now?
I’d love it if you leave a comment and let me know.
Let’s do this together.
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