I love the reminders to be thankful during this season, but am saddened that it lasts only a few weeks in November. A gratitude perspective is hard to maintain throughout the year with the pressures of daily living. We get caught up in striving to accomplish our “to-do” lists in preparation for the holiday season.
Over the last few years, I’ve challenged myself to grow in the gratitude perspective. To be honest, it has been hard. The struggle is real. I can easily fall into complaining or discouragement. It takes discipline to learn change your perspective, especially when the world is so negative.
Here are some observations I’ve learned from the gratitude perspective.
Gratitude leads us to value the blessings in life.
Many daily gifts from God are overlooked from the pressures from life to perform strive for more. Eye contact with the blessings is important— keeping my eyes open to notice the blessings in daily life. I love it when a small child waves or smiles at me. When someone lets me in front of them in the grocery line when I only have a few items and they have a cart full, my heart is warmed. Look around—what is right with the world? Be the person who smiles and spreads kindness.
Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. Psalm 103:1-2 KJV
Gratitude is a pathway to praise.
Offering thanks to God is different than praising Him. We thank God for what He has provided—food, shelter, love, family, answered prayer—which leads us to praise God for who He is. A good exercise is writing down the top ten blessings in your life. Sure, it sounds elementary, but if we remember the simple reasons for thanksgiving, it will go a long way to pave the way for an upgraded gratitude perspective throughout the year. Praying regular prayers of thanksgiving lightens our hearts. And then when a tough season occurs, we can reread the list to set our mind on the blessings in life in spite of the circumstances.
Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name. 1 Chronicles 29:13 NIV
When gratitude replaces grumbling, contentment can grow in your heart.
Complaining indicates discontentment, creating a yearning for something other than we have. Sometimes life is hard when situations or relationships don’t go as we hoped. The car breaks down when there’s little in the bank account. Someone disappoints you.
When I look at the problem, I will become discouraged. When I look to the word of God and pray, I gain peace. The challenge is to look to the Lord and his promises, not the problem. God is faithful to keep all his promises; remembering this truth will help increase the gratitude perspective. A thankful heart leads to a better outlook in life.
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV
The following song encourages me to have a gratitude perspective even when life is hard. Laura Story wrote it during the time when her husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor. I pray that you are encouraged, too.