<clears throat and announces> today is World Gratitude Day.
Life can be hard. I know.
But I also know this: the more we practice gratitude in the face of fear, adversity, loss and disappointment, the more we increase our capacity for joy, even bolstering our immune system and boosting resilience. Seriously. There have been studies!
And when our expectations collide with reality, gratitude can protect us from stress and even depression and help us create a new way of seeing, being and living.
Gratitude makes us nicer, more trusting, more social, and more appreciative. As a result, it helps us to be healthier, to make more friends, and to deepen our existing relationships.
And for me, it’s in the Bible: “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Yes, life is still good and there can still be gratitude, even when difficult stuff happens.
After years of leaning into gratitude, I know I’ve only scratched the surface of this powerful principle. I realize my pursuit of gratitude isn’t an accident, as much as preparation for what has come my way during these last few years. Preparing to see me through – because when it comes to the struggles of life, we need gratitude to be our companion.
We all have own challenges and difficult days. Yet, even in my darkest days, my instinct is to feel grateful for the things that I do have and for the things that are going well. I let gratitude be the doorway to hope; once hopeful, I find strength and the will to take one small step that moves me to better and easier times.
Because this is what happens:
Words of gratitude lift us above circumstance.
Sometimes the wall of difficulties we face appears too tall to scale. But the presence of gratitude lifts and carries us. We become stronger, more agile, infused with what we need, not just to face the barrier, but to search for a way around or over that we hadn’t considered before.
Words of gratitude refocus our attention.
They change our perspective. We’re never off on the wrong foot when we step out in gratitude. We can’t think negatively when we focus on the positive. We’re less judgmental, resentful, or divisive when we’re thankful for our relationships (especially the complicated ones). Sometimes it’s easy to focus on our hurts or sorrows and miss all of the other places that good things are happening. It’s possible for good things and hard things to co-exist in our lives. We show wisdom when we can focus on being thankful and noticing the good, instead of concentrating on the bad.
Words of gratitude bring us joy.
Those who live in gratitude have the most joyful lives. It’s impossible to miss the joy when we’re on the lookout for blessings. We won’t miss out on the moments when we’re present and rooted in each one as it comes.
Time and time again, that’s what I discovered. I found that whenever I navigated any rough terrifying circumstances with gratitude—even through storms and difficult Joseph-experiences and hard places, I was encouraged, strengthened, braver.
So, my hope and prayer for today is that no matter what our struggles storms hurts dark places, that we’ll choose to face all with gratitude, with discovering ONE moment of thankfulness. A moment outside ourselves, above our circumstance. A moment looking for a blessing.
When we steer our way with gratitude, we declare that the darkness does not win.
Today: I challenge us to live from a place of gratitude and joy.
Let’s have more gratitude. More understanding. More compassion. More grace. More mercy. More community. More forgiveness. More kindness. More charitableness.
Let’s not be cruel or hurtful or selfish or judgmental or isolating or thankless or intolerant or vengeful or rude.
Let’s keep our perspective. Our humor. Our appreciation.
Let’s be brave.
Let’s fill our hearts and minds and souls with gratitude.