All you need is a notebook and a few seconds.
Gratitude is a basic ingredient in this great adventure called life; it’s heaven on earth. The word comes from the Latin gratia, which means “gift” or “free” — and also “grace.” Gratitude is an attitude and a lifestyle. It’s the acknowledgement due to the person who does good to us without having to, and that’s exactly what God did to each of us by giving us the gift of life — something he did out of pure love, not out of any obligation.
Gratitude doesn’t wear out with time; it grows and bear fruits, although those fruits are often visible only in heaven, not on earth.
It’s good for us to be grateful, because it fills and expands our hearts and makes them full of love — gratitude and love always go hand in hand. Saying thanks should be as natural as breathing; thanks not only in words, but as an expression of the heart, with sincerity.
Gratitude is not just a matter of speaking, but of acting. The words “thanks” and “thanksgiving” are used more than 100 times in the Bible. In fact, gratitude is a constant in Jesus’ public life.
Let’s give thanks for what we do have and for what we often take for granted. Let’s start our day on our knees so that we finish it on our feet. Let’s work with an attitude of gratitude to God from dawn to dusk. Let’s start our day from the first moment we open our eyes with a “thanks!”
If we really value what it means to have life, what it is to have legs for walking, eyes for seeing, ears for hearing, a roof to live under, we would start our day on our knees telling God, “I will serve.” Let’s not go through life taking so many gifts for granted. Everything was given to us freely and the least God deserves is gratitude and good stewardship of what he gave us.
A grateful attitude helps us see life in a different way. What we once considered difficult, sad, or painful situations can be transformed if we add a few drops of gratitude, and we will be able to see them more clearly as opportunities.
How anxiety thwarts gratitude and joy, and our interior well-being
For example, the boyfriend who dumped us. We have two options: cry bitterly because the relationship is over, or give thanks because it happened and choose to keep only the good memories. Any situation that involves a goodbye can be completely changed if the goodbye is suffused with gratitude and not with anger.
Be grateful in everything, even in the most trivial details, such as when someone takes us into account in ways that can sometimes seem annoying, such as when they tag us in a photo or a post on Facebook. I’ve never understood why some people get annoyed at that; why not feel thankful that they took you into account?
“I cried because I didn’t have shoes until I met someone who didn’t have feet.” And so it happens. We stop enjoying the many things we have because we’re too busy complaining about the little bit we lack.
It’s very hard to be thankful in the midst of a sickness, in the death of a loved one, in a financial setback, or in the midst of calumny and dishonor. If we have faith, we will know that we will have tremendous fruits of joy to offer God after so much sorrow. Although sadness may invade us, let’s ask God to give us the ability to say “thanks” and trust in the perfect plan behind this experience.
I suggest the following exercise: keep a notebook on your bedside table, and every morning write five things — or blessings — for which you are grateful. I’m sure that over time, five will seem like a very small number. Recognizing all the good in your life will help you to start your day on a positive note every day — and that’s one more thing to be grateful for!
How to exercise “the discipline of gratitude” throughout the New Year
This article was originally published in the Spanish edition of Aleteia and has been translated and/or adapted here for English speaking readers.