Enriching Your Life Through Gratitude

by Nancy Stout

“Don’t forget to say thank you!” We all remember those early years in life when Mom or Dad reminded us to say thank you. Whether it was for a piece of candy, a dollar in a birthday card, or a neighbor rescuing your ball from the street, we heard it: “Now, say thank you.” It was a polite thing to say, it showed good manners, and it acknowledged a gift. 

Often, as years pass, our attention turns toward more complicated issues and problems, serious circumstances of illness, financial misfortune, and even to global disasters and atrocities. We might wonder how to be thankful and how to live in gratitude when life is hard and many bad things happen. 

Working Your Way Through. Gratitude, in the deepest sense, is about more than saying thank you. It becomes a state of being, rather than an act of saying or doing. It is recognizing the good things in life each and every day, even—and especially—in the midst of trying circumstances. 

Appreciate the simple. Each one of us can find something to be grateful for every day, in every situation, simply because we have been granted the gift of life by our Creator. Foster and nurture this attitude. You begin on a small scale and with the simple things around you. 

Enjoy the small gifts, the ordinary gifts. Such a gift may be time with a friend or an unexpected greeting card in the mail. It can be a quiet evening with a good book or an especially tasty meal with someone you love. 

One practice I have adopted is to document these things by keeping a gratitude list in my journal. You can do this to remind yourself of the blessings and good things that are part of each and every day if you take the time to pay attention and to notice. It’s a soothing way to end the day. 

Live in the moment. Living in the moment presents a challenge for all of us. We spend a great deal of time and energy ruminating over the past, revisiting old wounds and hurts, resentments and regrets. Then, there is the constant worry about what is ahead in the future. We always have questions and concerns about yesterday and about tomorrow. It is an exhausting and stressful way to live. Living in the present allows you to use your energy for what is right before your eyes. 

In order to create memories, you have to actually be present and participate in each moment. We must look at and listen to those people with whom we interact each day—our family and friends, colleagues, and faith community. We can miss so many wonderful opportunities if we exhaust ourselves worrying about what might happen or about the mistakes of the past. 

Give thanks to the Gift-giver. Most of us need to be called back to the goodness in life and in ourselves and each other from time to time. Tragedy, disaster and calamity are what “sell” in the media. If we focus only on the negative, it can be devastating to both heart and soul. 

The human soul thrives when expressing gratitude. It is important to foster this gratitude in our spiritual journey at each stage of life. Engage in silent meditation and reflection; give thanks for today; strive to live and act in humility. Living out of a place of gratitude rather than a place of complaint and dissatisfaction fosters healing and spiritual growth. It also deepens the relationship you have with your Creator. 

I am not suggesting that we live with blinders on, oblivious to struggles and human suffering. Quite the opposite! If you can look deeply into the human condition, develop a spirituality of gratitude, giving thanks will come naturally. In ALL things, give thanks. Remember that God works in darkness and vulnerability as well as in the light of day! Reason for hope! 

Take heart. Living in gratitude does not mean you deny the sorrows and losses which come to every life. These need to be honored because pain and suffering are part of life. It is all about balance and remembering God’s promise to be with us “in all things.” Gratitude transcends suffering; it transforms suffering. Living in gratitude and noticing all the good in life around us each and every day is actually an attitude toward life. 

Excerpt taken from Enriching Your Life Through Gratitude CareNote.

Subscribe To Our Mailing List

Receive our latest updates and exclusive offers.

Subscribe Now

Subscribe to our Blog

[user_registration_form id="76907"]