Let’s talk gratitude with Jessie Gibson-Jones, owner of Well Mama Co.
She’ll give us tips on how to make it a daily practice and even carry on past the holidays.
Choosing the Action of Gratitude
The holiday season is quickly approaching, and with it comes the annual surge in use of the word “gratitude”. Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for our abundance. Christmas provides opportunities to reflect on the mercies of our loving GOD.
Most often, we breeze right through this busy time of year, checking the necessary decorating, baking, shopping, parties, feasts and worship services off our to-do lists. Prayers, check. Thanks, check. Then we’re on to the New Year and its required planning and resolution making. There’s weight to lose, skills to learn, habits to change, money to make. Business as usual.
But what if, this year, we didn’t stop being grateful on December 31? Imagine what it would feel like if we allowed that lovely warm feeling of basking in GOD’s abundance to continue to wash over us, like the glorious afternoon sunshine on a cool autumn day that seeps into your clothes and hair and skin, into your very soul.
Instead of hiding away at the end of the season, what if our gratitude continued to shine on, giving us strength and renewal through the winter and into the spring? What if we could capture that feeling day in and day out, 365 days a year?
There’s a widely accepted idea that every good person should have an “attitude of gratitude.” That sounds nice, doesn’t it? How wonderful it would be if we were all born with the trait of unrelenting thankfulness.
In truth, humans don’t start off with an attitude or a belief system. All of our beliefs are learned, at least in part, through action. Gratitude isn’t something you have. It’s something you do.
Expressing thanks on occasion is a pleasant place to start, but that alone isn’t likely to create the long-term shift in belief you may aspire to. If gratitude is an attitude you want to keep around, you must take specific, habitual action.
To welcome more gratitude into your life, first you need to choose your method. This can be as simple as thinking of three things you’re grateful for every day, exchanging gratitudes around the family dinner table, or picking up a new gratitude journal.
The key is to choose something you (and your loved ones, if they’re involved) will actually look forward to. Don’t choose journaling if you hate to write.
Once you’ve decided how to get grateful, your next step is when. As with any new habit, you’ll have the most success if you repeat the action consistently at the same time.
You’ll need a cue to trigger your new behavior. This can be immediately after turning off your morning alarm, after you pour your first cup of coffee, as you sit down to lunch or dinner, or before turning out the light at bedtime. If you choose a current habit as your cue, your new gratitude practice will fit more naturally into your lifestyle.
Now that you’ve chosen the how and when, the next step is to get started… and don’t stop.
A friend of mine used to practice gratitude by thinking of three new things he was grateful for every morning. This was a cheerful way to start the day, as he looked forward to counting his blessings. For a while. Eventually, he couldn’t keep up the habit any longer. He ran out of things to be thankful for. His final gratitude, as he recalled, was his toes.
My diagnosis? He didn’t run out of blessings; he ran out of creativity.
If gratitude came naturally, everyone would be grateful all the time. Take a look around and you’ll see that isn’t the case. We all have bad days, stormy seasons, and hard losses. When we go through a rough patch, it can cloud our vision, making us forget to look for the silver lining.
Keeping up the habit of gratitude requires creativity. We have to look beyond the obvious, the gimmes. We have to be willing to reach deep into our very souls to reframe our shortcomings and hardships into part of a larger narrative of joy.
The practice of gratitude is an act of FAITH. It’s acknowledging that the sun is still shining brilliantly above the horizon, even when we can’t see its light or feel its warmth.
Gratitude is like a muscle. When we activate it regularly, in time, it gets stronger. Eventually it becomes our default to see the world through the lens of thankfulness.
Even on the darkest of days, amidst anger, sorrow, worry, fear and overwhelm, our minds will seek out and find the good, just as we’ve trained them to. Through the storm, our gratitude holds steady, the sunlight that radiates from within.
|If you value support and community in building the faithful habit of gratitude, I welcome you to join Selena and me at these upcoming gatherings.
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