5 ways to Cultivate Gratitude
1. Praise God
If you recall from the previous post, I mentioned that I needed to change my perspective about gratitude so that I put my focus on God first. He gives me life and is the reason I have anything at all. So I think that it is imperative that the first step to cultivate a heart of gratitude is to praise God.
There are many ways you could do this. One thing, might be to find some bible verses that speak about praise or God’s character. Use those to remind you of who he is and what that means for you. For example, 1 Chronicles 16 verse 34 states “Give thanks to the LORD for he is good; his love endures forever.” This is a great reminder that his love is always there for us.
I also created a free set of twenty verse cards about praise and thanksgiving that you can use for this purpose. You can either print them out or just download it and read them on your computer. I hope these cards are a good tool for you to use as a way to focus your heart on bringing praise to the Lord.
Another way to focus on gratitude during the holidays is to give to others. It is hard to wallow in self-pity about what you don’t have when you are focused on helping someone else. In fact, giving can bring you more joy than it does the person you are giving to. There are lots of ways you can help give back, especially during the holidays. So I came up with just a few ideas to help get you started.
- Donate food to your local church food pantry or shelter to help feed people who would not otherwise get a nice meal for the holiday.
- Invite a friend or neighbor who doesn’t have other family around to join your family dinner.
- Go to a nursing home to visit some of the residents. Usually they love having people around since many of them don’t see their family often.
- Put together some boxes for Operation Christmas Child. You can even get some friends together and make a fun event of putting together boxes. Keeper of the Home has a post all about how to host an operation Christmas child shoe box packing party if you want to try it!
Want some more ideas? Check out this post called how do you give on Dave Ramsey’s website. He posted a video about a woman who learned to look for ways to bless those around her and the impact it had on her outlook on giving. It’s a touching story that I think we can all learn from.
3. Don’t Play the Comparison Game
I have mentioned this before, but comparing your life to someone else does nothing but rob you of joy. I think it deserves mentioning again in light of the holidays because this it the time when it can become very easy to be jealous of those around you.
You may see family’s enjoying time together and wish you lived closer to yours. Maybe you have a friend who always takes a vacation during the holidays and you can’t remember the last time you were able to take a break. Maybe you are running low on finances this year so you won’t be able to purchase nice gifts.
Whatever it is that you find yourself comparing this season, know that God has blessed each of us with different things. Comparing your life to someone else will only make you greedy, grumpy and ungrateful. So instead, focus on what you are blessed with. <—-Click to tweet!
If it’s a struggle for you to count your blessings, remember that joy comes from first putting your focus on God not on your circumstances. When you strive to have a heart of gratitude, you will in turn find more peace and joy in your life, and the things that you wish you had will become less important.
4. Be Still
Whenever possible, take some moments to just sit and be still. I know these moments can be hard to find when you are busy rushing from one dinner party to the next. But I want to encourage you to be on the lookout for any free moments and take advantage of them.
Use this time to refocus back onto the important things, like giving praise to God, thanking him for how he has blessed you and looking for ways to help those around you.
It is also important to take some time to allow God to speak to you. It’s easy to allow his voice to get drowned out by the noise from all the holiday commotion around you. Don’t lose sight of the little things God is trying to show you.
When you are purposeful about being still, you are more likely to be grateful for the simple things.
5. Keep a Gratitude Journal
A gratitude journal is a way to record things for which you are grateful. You can simply write it out in a notebook, keep a word document on your computer to if you want to be crafty, you can make something.
You can make it as extensive or simple as you would like. Some people prefer to just keep a list of things. Others like to make it more of an actual journal and write out prayers or other thoughts. However you choose to do it, the focus is on being grateful.
I decided to add some note-cards to my Give Thanks verse cards and use that as my gratitude journal. I am using the note cards to start writing a list of things that I am thankful for.
Here’s a few that I have written so far:
- God’s love endures forever
- The love of my husband
- Building new friendships
- Pretty colored leaves
I plan to continue to write in this even after this Thanksgiving season is over because I want to learn to be grateful all the time, not just for a month or two each year.
You may notice that each of these ways listed above to help you cultivate gratitude take the focus off of yourself and on to someone else. Gratitude cannot be selfish. In order to give thanks we have to acknowledge who God is and that he is the one bringing blessings. Take some time today to write what you are thankful for and think about how you can have a heart of gratitude this holiday season.
What are some other ways to cultivate gratitude?
Do you have any stories of specific ways you have blessed others during the holidays?