“O my soul, bless God. From head to toe, I’ll bless his holy name! O my soul, bless God, don’t forget a single blessing!” Psalm 103:1-2 (MSG)
I’m sure you’ve read that practicing gratitude improves our lives. Why not make this a resolution for 2015? Ready, set, GO!
1. Start small.
Blessings come in tiny and huge packages. The key is to actively seek AND thank Him for the myriad blessings He showers on us.
There’s a traffic light on my route that was installed a few years ago. It makes one of my weekly errands so much easier. I’m STILL thankful every single time I go through that intersection. Every. Time.
I’m thankful for everything–from coffee in bed, fluffy cumulus clouds, the laughter of children, and finding a dollar on my walk to hearing “no cancer” when I found a lump in my breast last summer and having a dear friend accept Jesus as her very own Savior. Some people tease me, calling me a Pollyanna, but it’s this deliberate CHOOSING gratitude (choosing joy) that has changed me. It has made my extremely demanding job, the sometimes daily migraines, the scary month with the lump all okay. The thing is-I’m okay because my God is in charge and He loves me.
2. Choose “your people” wisely.
My husband is a wonderful man, but there’s one political issue that gets him going and can turn him into Negative Ned. I finally just told him how hearing about this every time he heard or read a news report was really bringing me down. It took a few times, but now he stops himself. Bonus: he’s avoiding those discussions with others and is more aware of which people and which topics can turn his thoughts and attitudes the wrong way.
I have a sweet coworker who can be incredibly negative. Obviously, this can make me negative if I’m around her too much. What to do? Maybe your spouse or parent or friend is negative. Ugh. Limit your time with them when they’re complaining. Pray for them. If you can, visit with them about how you are trying to stay more positive and how you’d love their help. If they notice the conversation turning to whining they can help you stop and switch directions (and attitudes). Maybe, just maybe, they’ll become a little more aware of their words. More likely than not, you’re going to have to control and limit contact. Some people aren’t going to change or help you keep things positive. If I have to be around someone I know will bring me down, I “pray up” before seeing them and get away from them as soon as possible.
Cultivate relationships with happy, positive, grateful people. You will become what you think about and surround yourself with.
3. Express gratitude to others.
My husband brings me coffee in bed every morning. And every morning I thank him. We thank each other for cooking dinner, washing dishes, checking the mail, taking out the trash. And we mean it! I also make it a habit to thank my students, my coworkers, and my bosses.
My school district offers a little award to employees who go above and beyond. Well, I think all of my coworkers go above and beyond! Every year, I take the time to nominate a dozen or more coworkers. From time to time, I text, email, or write a note to my husband and dearest friends, reminding them of how very important they are to me and why. Look for little ways to express appreciation to family, friends, and coworkers. (Hint: If I don’t have time to write a note or fill out the nomination form, I put it on my calendar.)
I’m pretty verbal, so words matter to me and I express appreciation through written and spoken words, but I have friends who express it differently-through cooking a meal, baking cookies, or running an errand. Discover how you like to give and receive gratitude. And discover how those dearest to you enjoy hearing or seeing or reading your gratitude. Words don’t mean as much to my hubby, but actions and attention do. He feels appreciated when I put my phone down and really listen to him, when I cook, when I do dishes when I run errands with him.
4. Be a good steward.
That lump last summer was scary. I’m choosing to view it as a reminder to take better care of my health. I’m choosing more and more good foods, walking more frequently, going to bed earlier.
It’s so important that we take care of what we have (children, spouses, health, friends, money, jobs, and so on). Be a good parent, spouse, friend, and employee. Don’t take your family or income for granted. Be good to those people in your life. Be an excellent employee. Spend, save, and give wisely.
Part 2 Coming Soon. Be blessed–and be grateful!