This month I’m going to practice extreme gratitude. In every situation, we have an opportunity to dig for the good, or to observe the inconvenience and frustrations throughout our days and wallow in it. It’s so easy to complain, and it’s even easier to invite people on that bandwagon with you. I’m on a mission this month to see how much of a difference it makes when I take every complaint and turn it to gratitude. As 2019 comes to a close, I want to finish this year out with a heart of praise, not self-pity. Because that’s what complaining is for me, anyway. I look at how I am affected negatively by a circumstance and then I feel justified to complain and have an attitude, wallowing in the discomfort inflicted upon me.
What would it look like to intentionally seek to see the good? What shift would there be if we looked at rough situations and counted the blessings in it? How would life change if suddenly, positivity started escaping our lips instead of contagious negativity?
Gratitude might not be able to actually change the situation at hand, but it will absolutely shift the way you perceive it, and the way that you interact with everyone involved. Extreme gratitude is shortly followed by the choice to love. Neither comes easy. Both are a choice. But when we step aside and allow for gratitude to shift our perspectives-we will have more energy, we will be more motivated, we will experience greater serenity, and we will be a flame in the darkness.
There are different methods I’m going to take in order to ensure I’m actively practicing gratitude. For example, today my supervisor told me I had to arrive at court at 8am sharp since I wasn’t going to be going into the office first. When I arrived, no one else from CPS was there. Most didn’t trickle in until 8:30am or so. Instead of letting myself get annoyed- I asked myself this question:
How can I grow from this?
Easy. By arriving early, I was reminded of the importance of timeliness and structure. By arriving early, I was able to be proud of myself for starting my day off right.
It’s the little things. It’s always the little things that make the biggest difference.
When someone cuts me off in traffic, I thank God for the transportation I have and the ability to drive. And then I try to remind myself that I have no clue why this person is cutting me off and it could be for a good reason.
When I’m struggling financially and stressing about how to pay all my bills this month, I will be grateful that I live a life full of responsibility and sobriety, and that I have a house that I get to pay rent on. Electricity exists. Water runs. My medical bills helped save my life. My financial struggles can be a reminder to me that I am so blessed to be where I am at today-housed, clothed, and healthy. I have to choose to look at it that way though.
If someone says something hurtful to me, I will have gratitude for the supportive friendships I have in my life, and for a God who loves me fearlessly.
Stressed at work? Thank you JESUS that I have a job and a steady income.
Unemployed? Thank you JESUS that I have this period in my life to depend on you with all that I am.
You get it. I could go on and on…and I will, all month long as I continue to practice extreme gratitude in every moment, but especially the moments when I would normally complain.
Gratitude changes absolutely everything, and extreme gratitude doesn’t mean grand acts-it means making the choice to be grateful even in moments when others tell you that you have every right to complain. Scripture instructs us to do everything without complaining or arguing, and the best way to combat that is gratitude.
- Gratitude journal/list. Carry it with you and add to it throughout your day.
- Rubber band around your wrist. When complaints begin to slip out, snap it, and instantly state something you can learn from the situation or something positive about it.
- Cultivate conversations of gratitude with others.
- Avoid spending excessive time with those people who seem like they always have something negative to say about something.
As the month goes on, I’m sure I’ll discover more things that work well for me. One thing that I’m going to strive to do within my attitude of gratitude is extend it into my prayer life. So often I jump into my prayers because I have a specific request, but in this season-while of course I’ll still pray for the requests in my life, I believe that opening and closing my prayers with thanksgiving and praise will create a shift in my relationship with the Lord. Praying just to thank God for this life and the breath in my lungs can change an entire day for me.
If you are looking for a shift in your life, it starts with gratitude. And gratitude can begin in this moment.