Did you know gratitude is an action? Today, we’re going to talk about the five ways to practice gratitude and walk it out in your real life.
GRATITUDE IS AN ACTION
Have you ever been told to have an “attitude of gratitude?”
Makes for a great sermon title, doesn’t it? Here’s the thing, it doesn’t translate well to real life.
I believe this is because we are not merely called to have an “attitude of gratitude” especially since attitudes can fluctuate with the wind, but we are called to something more than that-to live and walk and breathe gratitude.
That’s an entirely different thing.
An attitude is not an action, gratitude is. If you study some of the most successful people in business, Christian or non-Christian, you will find almost all actively practice gratitude.
I’ve spent the last few months in deep self-reflection through therapy, books and an over abundance of self-care (in a non-selfish way). I guess you could say I’m discovering myself and maybe that’s the trendy thing to say but I wouldn’t put it that way-I would say I am finally taking the time to discover who God created me to be.
I’ve spent most of my adult life in the “hustle” of being an entrepreneur, a business creator and builder. It takes a lot of time and energy and constant “go, go, go.” And, while it might look great on Instagram, it’s exhausting. The funny thing is, most of the time I stayed too busy to even notice how tired I actually was.
This pandemic, however, put a hard stop on a lot of things. It was a forced rest in a lot of ways, for many of us and for me.
I have used this time to focus on healing and through that process I become aware of my co-dependent tendencies, my “I have to fix everyone” mentality which translates well to business and horribly to relationships.
As I ventured through the recovery process, my entire mindset began to change, I saw things about myself I had never seen before and I just happened to notice the word “gratitude” kept coming up in every book I read and through the mouth of my therapist. I finally realized that word did not mean what I thought it meant.
Over the years, I’ve heard gratitude taught but never fully understood it and quite honestly, I think there’s a lot of people who teach on it that don’t fully understand it either. In our culture we tend to mix the word up with simply being thankful. Being thankful is great but most of us only think about it around Thanksgiving, gratitude, however, is something lived out every single day.
The practice of gratitude is so different that if you truly get ahold of it, it will flip your life upside down.
It’s THAT big of a deal.
WHAT IS GRATITUDE?
I’m not sure it is something you can really understand until your spirit gets quiet, until you meet God in the secret place and really, truly, realize the blessings He has given you even in the worst of circumstances.
In fact, as I studied gratitude, I started to realize gratitude was required with sacrifice throughout the entire Old Testament. As having visited Israel earlier this year, I see and understand the importance of the Jewish sacrifice so much more than I ever did before.
Psalm 50:23 says, “The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!”
This means more than even the value of the sacrifice on the altar, is a grateful heart, a heart that rejoices in whatever he/she has been given and sees the blessing even in the troubled times.
“Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High.” Psalm 50:14
Just think about it right now-what can you be grateful for?
Are you grateful you have a job? What about being grateful you are healthy? Your kids are healthy? Have you even considered being grateful for your home or car?
Think about these things. You have more to be grateful for than you have likely ever even considered…even in the worst of times, even in a pandemic, even in a mask war, even right now in this moment-you can still be grateful.
But, you have to make a choice to do so.
Fast forward to the New Testament and thankfulness is mentioned 71 times. It matters. It is important to God and if it is important to God then it should be important to us.
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17
In the book, The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown (which I HIGHLY recommend), Brene says,
“It seems gratitude without practice may be a little like faith without works-it is not alive.”
That’s a big statement and, it’s correct.
Gratitude or thankfulness without practice isn’t much of anything. So, now the question is, how do you actually practice gratitude? Well, I’m going to tell you what I’ve been doing and you can adapt what you’d like.
FIVE WAYS TO PRACTICE GRATITUDE
1. Wake up early. I wake up every single day at 5am (yes, I’m a morning person) and I get out my Bible and my journal. No, I’m not saying you have to get up at 5am but getting up before your kids and family to spend time with God and reflect on what you are grateful for makes a huge difference.
2. Create a gratitude journal. I have a gratitude journal and hear me on this, this part is a BIG DEAL. Starting right when I get up, I write down five things I am grateful for. This might include things like coffee or bigger things like the ability to breathe deeply (something I struggled with for awhile dealing with asthma) or the chance to dive deeper in my relationship with God. (I’m always holier in the morning…) 😉
Check out my favorite gratitude journal here.
3. Create a peaceful place. So, here’s how this works for me, I have created a place in my bedroom (you can do this in a closet or any place you can find) that is entirely for me. It has plants, it has books, it has a hanging hippie chair and it is peaceful. When you look at it, you think peace. I mean, you also think 1960s but that’s peace too, right?
Anyway, I sit in that chair at 5am with my coffee and my dog and I read the Bible. Then, I sit quietly. I say, “Speak Lord, I am listening” and then I think about at least five things I am grateful for that morning. I also light my Bath and Body candles or turn on my essential oils diffuser, I don’t get totally weird or anything-I just like it to smell good and feel peaceful.
4. Look for positive things throughout the day. This is a big deal especially for me because I’ve spent years trying to fix the world’s problems which means I’ve spent years looking at the world’s problems. Now, I spend the day trying to find things that I am grateful for AND I focus on those things. When I get irritated or overwhelmed, I stop and remember something that made me smile and consciously think about that for a few minutes. This helps reset your actual attitude and keep you in a positive place even if you’re dealing with negative situations.
5. Create a nighttime routine. Similar to your morning routine, create a routine of gratefulness at night. For me, I pray with my children and each of them tell me what they are grateful for and we discuss those things. Then, I put them to bed and grab my journal again. I take the time to think through the actual day and write down 3-5 more things I am grateful for that occurred throughout the day. After that, I read the Bible or some of the books I am currently going through at the moment.
The point is to begin the day with gratefulness, remind yourself of it throughout the day and end the day with gratefulness. You do this long enough and your entire attitude will change. TRUST ME on this one, it’s weird but it works.
Why does it work? Because God told us to do it.
To listen to the podcast, visit the Sarah Ann Speaks podcast page.
Sarah Ann is an author, speaker and media personality committed to honesty, vulnerability and authenticity. She has a passion for empowering people who are willing to be honest and walk out life in Christ together. Sarah holds a Bachelors in Biblical Studies and a Masters in Theology and Apologetics, she also owns a clothing company, Ascent516.com and is the creator of SarahAnnSpeaks.com and the Sarah Ann Speaks Podcast. Sarah is featured daily on GEB TV.