As Thanksgiving approaches, you may find yourself reflecting on your many blessings. Regardless of the hardships of this year (or past years), most of us can find plenty of reasons to be thankful. Even so, if you are like me, you may want to pause to do an honest evaluation of your gratitude meter. After all, with the daily stresses and challenges of life, it is easy to lose sight of all that is good in the world and all the many reasons we have to give thanks. So, what’s your gratitude meter?
Ann Voskamp, author of “One Thousand Gifts”, says, “Every breath is a battle between grudgery and gratitude…Give thanks and you win joy.” Ann’s right — joy really is a function of gratitude and being grateful is all about our perspective on things.
Perspective is everything and the stories we tell ourselves about our life’s circumstances matter. Your outlook on life, at least in part, is the by-product of your experiences, but it’s the stories you tell yourself about those experiences that shape your perspective. How you view and analyze your experiences will shape and inform you and will also impact your gratitude meter, for better or for worse. The good news is that you can choose to interpret things through a positive lens. You can choose to be grateful in spite of stressful situations, unmet dreams, and hard times. Gratitude might not be a natural posture, especially in tough times, but it is a choice. It is always a choice.
We can all benefit from choosing gratitude and we can all choose to live thankful. So, what does living thankful look like? Here are five simple suggestions to help you raise your gratitude meter and to live more thankful:
1. Be Intentional
Gratitude is a choice, so begin by choosing thankfulness every day. Slow down and be mindful of the present. Intentionally see the goodness in people and in the small and simple things around you.
2. Re-Frame Your Negative Experiences
Rather than reacting to a negative situation, step back and look for the lesson and the silver lining. The story you tell yourself matters, so frame the experience from a positive perspective and tell yourself the right story — a story that will impact you positively and leave you feeling thankful for the lesson.
3. Look for Opportunities in the Challenges
Every problem presents an opportunity. The obstacle is often the way forward, so see challenges as gifts. Gifts that will help you to grow, develop, and succeed.
4. Think About What You’re Thinking About
Your mind has millions of thoughts every day. The good news is that you have control over what you think. You can tame your thoughts, redirect your mind, and flip the switch from negative thinking to right thinking. This isn’t about wearing rose-colored glasses. It’s about right thinking and right focus. When your thoughts are focused on what is truly important, valuable, and worthy, you’ll be less apt to spiral into an ungrateful attitude and you’ll be much more able to live thankful.
5. Express Thanks
There is power in the words you speak. When you express joy, wonder, and thankfulness, you actually become more thankful. In the words of Margaret Cousins, “Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary.”
Choosing to Live Thankful
Living thankful is a choice and these simple suggestions are only a few of the million different ways for us to live our lives from an abundance of thankfulness. When you choose to live thankful, you might just discover that the life you are living is the life you have always wanted.