Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Thoughts on Gratitude

"Gratitude, like faith, is a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it grows, and the more power you have to use it on your behalf. If you do not practice gratefulness, its benefaction will go unnoticed, and your capacity to draw on its gifts will be diminished. To be grateful is to find blessings in everything. This is the most powerful attitude to adopt, for there are blessings in everything."
- Alan Cohen

It's that time of year again, the holiday season when families and friends gather together for a Thanksgiving feast. For me personally, Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year. It's a day filled with food, football, fellowship.. but it's also a time to reflect on and express gratitude for the blessings in our lives.

I have so much to be thankful for in my life, and this season is great reminder of that, but truly.... I struggle with the fact I often take the blessings (big and small) in my life for granted. It's so easy to get caught up in what we don't have, right? And although gratitude should be practiced all the time (not just for Thanksgiving), I do love the challenge this month brings.

The challenge to have gratitude day in and day out, and the challenge to be thankful for this beautiful thing called life. This month, I am challenging myself not only to show gratitude for the obvious things in my life… things most people in America are blessed to have, like shelter, food, clothes,  and loved ones, but to also find moments of gratitude in the everyday things around me.

What do I mean by that? Well, I mean to be grateful for even the smallest things… like the beauty of the leaves falling, the smell of supper cooking, for the book that I'm reading or the song I'm listening to, for someone who showed kindness to me, the feeling of being hugged, and my daily Bible study. See, it's the little things like that that often go unnoticed.  Instead of focusing on what I don't have, I'm challenging myself to focus on what I do have… which in reality is more than I'll ever need.

I challenge you to also be mindful of gratitude this month! Not only will it make you realize all the little (and big) blessings you have in the every day, but practicing gratitude has many psychological benefits as well… such as reducing negative emotions like envy and resentment, plus it improves self esteem. To get started, I wrote down 15 steps towards achieving gratitude (via Pinterest), and I hope they will be useful for you as well!

1. Appreciate
2. Stop labeling
3. Optimism
4. Release your past
5. Avoid comparison
6. Kindess
7. Stop using excuses
8. Nurture relationships
9. Forgiveness
10. Avoid impressing others
11. Commit to your goals
12. Care for your body
13. Believe
14. Dream
15. Give

How will you practice gratitude this month?