Have you heard it said gratitude changes everything? How can you possibly be grateful in all things? Life can be hard and sometimes it’s not easy to find gratitude.
Choosing gratitude leads to contentment, joy, generosity, peace, forgiveness, and compassion plus so much more. Gratitude is good for the soul. So, once you choose to be grateful how do you cultivate the habit of gratitude? There are 5 keys that will help you cultivate a grateful heart.
5 Keys for Cultivating a Grateful Heart
1. Gratitude is a Choice
I’ll never forget one of the hardest days of my life. We had spent the day in and out of doctor offices to determine that at 12 weeks pregnant, I had miscarried. Not only was I in emotional anguish, but I was also in great physical pain. As we sat down to pray as a family that night, I put on my brave face but inside I didn’t want to talk to God. I was mad. Scott led the prayer and at the end he said, Thank you God for the time we did have with our baby and the hope we will see our baby again in heaven. (Read more about that day here)
That prayer stopped me in my tracks. Scott made the choice to be grateful in the midst of the crappiest of circumstances.
I have a lot of opportunities to be grateful but I don’t always choose to see my many blessings. I don’t think I am alone, I think we all have a bent to want more and be discontent. There is hope though, we all have the choice to be grateful. Scott taught me that if we can find something to be grateful for on the worst of days.
Grateful people choose the attitude of gratitude in all circumstances.
2. See everything we have as a gift
Do you remember Veruca Salt in Charlie and the Charlie Factory (if not watch this video)? Veruca is best remembered for singing the song “I Want It Now!”. She was one of the few children who got a coveted golden ticket and a chance to tour the coveted Wonka Chocolate Factory but it wasn’t enough she wanted a golden egg.
When she was told no, she said: “If I don’t get the things I am after, I am going to scream.”
How ungrateful was Veruca? She was entitled and discontent. Then, I thought I can be just like her.
Veruca believed she had a right to what she wanted. I know I have said things like, “I deserve that thing I really want.” When we view things as rights it’s really hard to be grateful. However, if we see everything as a gift, it’s much easier to be grateful.
Grateful people view everything they have as a gift and not a right. This leads to contentment and dispells comparison and jealousy.
Don’t let your ice cream melt, while you are admiring someone else’s sprinkles.
3. Perspective is powerful.
I live in an affluent American dream bubble. I often take for granted that I have a home with heat, working cars, and a consistent income. There was a time that I was really discontent with our home. I would look at homes on social media and Pinterest and point out all the things we could do to update or change home to make it better or better yet, sell it all together and buy new.
Then, we went to St. Kitts as part of our 10th-anniversary cruise trip (so thankful for that trip 😉 and we drove through little villages to get to our hiking destination. Houses made out of scrap metal lined the twisting road. Few houses had windows or a real door, there was no carpet or air conditioning. Perspective is powerful. I take so much for granted.
Grateful people keep a good perspective and remember all they have to be grateful for.
4. We see what we look for
One of my favorite movies of all time (and one of the few I have rewatched) is Pollyanna. Pollyanna was an orphan taken in by her cantankerous aunt. She had every reason to be bitter at the hand life had dealt her. Yet, she remembered a game her father had taught her when she received crutches instead of a doll in a missionary shipment. He taught her the glad game. He taught her you could always find something to be grateful for if you just looked hard enough.
In a world full of bad news, is there any good news left? It depends what are you looking for?
There is only so much room in our heart. When you start to choose to reflect and look for reasons to be grateful, you have less time to worry, grumble, live in fear, be bitter, and frustrated.
Grateful people actively look for opportunities to be grateful.
5. We practice what is important to us
A friend of mine just completed his first marathon. He ran 26.2 miles and lived to tell the tale, I was impressed. You don’t just wake up one morning and say I am going to run 26.2 miles. You practice and train, day after day. Some days you wake up with bruised feet and sore legs but you do it anyway.
In the same way, we need to practice cultivating gratitude, on the good days and the hard. If we practice on the good days, it will be easier to find gratitude on the hard days. Obedience proceeds feelings, in order to feel grateful you need to practice. A grateful heart won’t just happen. We won’t just become grateful people. Sure, we might be grateful here and there but true daily gratitude happens with practice.
Grateful people practice cultivating gratitude every day.
When we choose to see everything as a gift, keep a good perspective, look for opportunities to be grateful, and practice cultivating it daily we will start to develop the habit. When we cultivate the habit of gratitude, we can be an example to others and spread the hope of a grateful heart to those around us.
When we cultivate a grateful heart, we are an example to others.
I live by the phrase, more is caught than taught. I know it’s true when I lose my cool with my kids and then a few days later my kid unleashes on their sibling in the same manner I did. When my kids are ungrateful. I look at myself first. Am I modeling for them what it means to be grateful? How can I more intentionally model being grateful?
Grateful people know they can be a positive example to others around them.
An attitude of gratitude might not change your circumstances but it can change your perspective which really can change everything. Don’t wait until Thanksgiving, practice gratitude year round simply on purpose. Your life and others will benefit from cultivating a heart of gratitude. What are you grateful for today?