Live With Gratitude – 7 Ways To Be More Thankful

Live With Gratitude

I recently read a quote about Thanksgiving from Erma Bombeck.

She said, “Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence.”

At Thanksgiving, do you take time and appreciate all of the food that’s been prepared or gobble it down so you can rush off to watch the game on TV?

Do you complain about some of the minor inconveniences you encounter in life?

I know I do even when my life is already rich and full.

So why do we gripe when we have so much?

We’re Hard-Wired

Research shows that humans are not hard-wired to be grateful.

Dang it!

I guess the truth hurts, right? But think about it, it’s so much easier to complain and criticize especially when we’re dealing with our problems.

Whether it’s not making enough money, our house isn’t big enough, or when traffic is backed up during our Monday morning commute, it’s human nature to focus on what we lack or what’s going wrong.

Whatever you focus on expands. If you focus on lack or what’s missing in your life (money, job position, mate), you’ll never attain what you’re capable of.

Many times we focus so much on acquiring “stuff” that when we do finally get it, we realize we’re not any happier.

Remember, most of us are on the hedonic treadmill which doesn’t make us any happier.

How many times have you heard someone say, “If only I had X, I’d be so much happier.” Unfortunately, life doesn’t work out that way.

If you’re not enjoying what you already have, you’ll never experience true happiness.

Don’t let that be you.

So what should we do? Live with gratitude instead.

What Is Gratitude?

Gratitude can easily be defined as being thankful or appreciative.

Perhaps the world’s leading expert on gratitude, Robert Emmons, states that it’s an affirmation of goodness and we affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received.

He also teaches that we receive these from sources outside of ourselves. For me as a Christian, I feel that all good things come from God.

Gratitude has also been defined as the ability to be aware of the good things that happen to you, and to never take them for granted.

This goes against today’s “entitlement” society that too many of us buy into.

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Expressing Gratitude

There are many different ways people express gratitude. For most of us parents, we try to teach our kids to say “thank you” when someone does something nice for us.

This would be the most straightforward way to show thanks. Other ways would be showing acts of kindness and reciprocating similar actions that were originally received.

Giving money and gifts are also ways people express gratitude such as if a stranger were to help you change a tire on the side of the road.

7 Ways To Live With Gratitude

1) In everything give thanks

1 Thessalonians 5:18 states “in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

When I first taught my kids how to pray, I’d ask them, “What are you thankful for?”

It seemed that they always tried to think of the big things in their life but I wanted them to get into the habit of being grateful for every good thing they had.

I wanted them to know that nothing was too small to be thankful for. Just being able to breath with two lungs and get out of bed with two feet were things that should be thankful for.

2) Be thankful even with challenges

Our pastor shared this video of Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback, Nick Foles, regarding his injury (broken clavicle) during his debut.

In 2018 he was named the Super bowl MVP with the Eagles and he shares his story about his purpose. He uses the locker room and other NFL platforms to share Christ with other players.

He could have complained about getting hurt during the first game, but expressed his thanks even though he was injured.

Most of us have experienced challenging times and usually looking back on them, we’ve discovered that we’re better off going through them.

3) Give thanks to your significant others

This is where I fall short.

I don’t give enough appreciation to my wife despite all that she does for me. I have no excuses but continue to work on this daily.

It’s easy to take others for granted that we live with even though they do so much for us.

If you want to begin to live with gratitude, tell your spouse how thankful you are of them.

4) Keep a gratitude journal

If you want to live with gratitude, it starts with changing your mindset. For instance, anytime you want to achieve something (such as make more money), it starts with how you think about things.

Related article: Scarcity vs Abundance Mindset

One way to change is by writing down your positive thoughts and all of the things you’re thankful for each day.

When you physically write on paper (not type), you can’t help but to consciously think about the words you’re writing and then have a list you can refer back to in the future.

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5) Volunteer

For those wanting to live with gratitude, giving back to others with their time is an important step.

Not only will this help you be more thankful, but studies have shown that volunteering increases our own well-being, and thus our ability to have more gratitude.

6) Use technology

Most of us have access to a smart phone and/or computer. We can use technology to express our thanks to others by sending a text, instant message or email.

Telling your friends why you appreciate them at unexpected times allows you to express your gratitude whenever it’s convenient even with a hectic schedule.

7) Change your perspective

If you’re the type of person that has a hard time coming up with things to be thankful for, try putting yourself in the shoes of someone you know that is having problems and struggling with life.

This will help you empathize with the situation they’re going through and inspire your to be more grateful for what you have in life.

A Time For Giving Thanks

The holidays is a perfect time to get away from work and reflect on what you’re thankful for.

One of our Thanksgiving Day traditions after the prayer is going around the table and each person saying one thing that they are thankful for.

Remember, no matter how small or insignificant you feel about what you have, giving thanks will help you being a more appreciative person.

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