Earlier this week I shared how important gratitude is for your health and wellness. You can read that article here. Today, I want to share some practical tips on how to express gratitude.
If you read my article earlier in the week (if you haven’t…go read it now), how are you doing? What steps did you take this week to becoming more grateful?
Today, I hope to help you with some very practical suggestions for taking your gratitude to the next level. So, let’s dive in!
Keep a Gratitude Journal
Any Google search on the subject of gratitude will lead to numerous articles on keeping a gratitude journal. I don’t just want to repeat everyone else, but actually believe this to be sound advice.
A gratitude journal is as simple as it sounds. Write down what you are thankful for!
I would encourage you to make this a daily practice. Every morning as one of your first priorities, write down 1-3 things that you are thankful for. This would also be a tremendous practice to end your day.
You certainly don’t need to go out and buy an expensive journal for this practice. A simple notebook would be sufficient. I mentioned Ben Greenfield’s Christian Gratitude Journal earlier in the week which is something I am planning to try.
A good Moleskin notebook is another aesthetically pleasing journal if you are into that sort of thing!
Selfishness and self-centeredness are the enemies of gratitude. We fail to be thankful when we are focused on ourselves.
One sure way to remove the focus from yourself is to volunteer.
Volunteering is simply serving others without any expectation of receiving something in return. It is the complete antithesis to self-centeredness.
Ways to Volunteer:
- Volunteer in your child’s classroom. Teachers always need help!
- Get involved in work volunteer opportunities. Corporate environments typically always having some volunteer opportunity.
- Get involved in your church. Help in the nursery, teach a Sunday School class, or work with the teens.
- Assist the elderly.
- Volunteer at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter.
The above are just a few ways you can volunteer to serve others. Get creative. If you can’t find anything, maybe that is the problem. Regardless, get started and see how it changes your unthankful heart!
Spend Time with Family and Friends
Sometimes we just forget how blessed we truly are. Life gets busy, circumstances get hard, and we forget the blessings of life.
Take some time to spend with family and friends…I mean truly spend time with them.
Put down your phone, turn off the television, and enjoy the company and conversation of those closest to you.
What could you do? Let me offer some suggestions:
- Enjoy a meal together
- Play a game together
- Go on vacation
- Take a walk or visit a park
Improve Your Circumstances
While you should find gratitude in the midst of your circumstances (see my earlier article and read 1 Thessalonians 5:18), sometimes you need to change your circumstances.
For instance, if you are in a job that makes you miserable, it may be time for a change. It may be time to improve the situation.
It may also simply mean you need to change your mindset. Maybe it is your heart that is the problem rather than the circumstances.
In either event, take the steps necessary to improve the situation. Work to improve your work circumstances, whether that is making things better or finding a new job.
Work on your marriage. Spend more time with kids and actually converse with them. Invest in your friendships.
Express Your Gratitude
It is amazing how much a simple word of thanks means to someone. I plan to write more on that later in the week, but for now I want to encourage you to express your gratitude to others.
You can’t help but feel thankful when you intentionally express that gratitude to someone else. This practice requires you to think of specifics as to why you are thankful.
When was the last time you told your spouse that you were thankful for him/her? Do your children know that you are grateful for them and the things they do?
Formulating the words and expression of gratitude creates a heart that is full of gratitude. This discipline fights off self-centeredness and works to change the heart in ways that simple thought cannot do.
How to express your gratitude:
- Verbally. Simply tell someone you are thankful for them and why.
- Write a letter to someone expressing your gratitude.
- Give a gift that expresses your gratitude.
- Publicly recognize someone for their accomplishments or service.
Take a Step Today
What can you do today to forge a heart of gratitude? How can you fight the urgings and natural tendencies to selfishness and self-centeredness?
It isn’t enough to simply say that you are thankful. It must be an attitude of the heart. You must BE grateful!
What are you going to do to become a more grateful person?