As the school year has shifted into full swing and the hustle and bustle in our lives only increases, it is easy to lose our lens of gratitude. I phrase gratitude as a “lens” here because gratitude is an attitude that we have the power to “put on” and “take off,” just like a pair of eyeglasses. Like a person with impaired vision, we oftentimes lose a grateful perspective in which we view the world, therefore altering how we see and experience life.
But when a person with impaired vision puts on a pair of eyeglasses to enhance their vision, WOW! The world, and everything in it, is seen with much more joy, appreciation, and clarity. The same goes for gratitude: gratitude is an attitude, practice, and way of life. When we view the world through a lens of gratitude and actively and intentionally focus on cultivating joy in everyday circumstances, we experience life and God’s blessings on a whole new level.
But with a day that only contains 24 hours and an endless list of obligations and roles to manage, how do we actively keep our lens of gratitude in place? Here are some tips to keep gratitude at the forefront of our lives:
Begin your day with intentional gratitude
The Lord’s mercies are new each morning (Lamentations 3:23)! Gratitude is not only an attitude, but a practice. When we make this practice intentional, it becomes a more habitual perspective of thinking, and it modifies how we experience the life God has given us! What better way to set the tone for the day than by taking in the world around us and giving thanks to the One who made it all possible? It could be something as simple as having a reminder set on your phone entitled “search for joy!” or creating a routine each morning that as soon as you wake up, you actively voice, “Thank you for this day and what it may bring.” These activities can help us put on our gratitude lens first thing in the morning set the tone for the rest of the day.
This can take as little as 3 minutes! Challenge yourself to put on your lens of gratitude and write down 3 ways you are thankful today. This can be done at any time during the day, but some common times are upon waking, during the lunch hour, or while getting ready to go to sleep. If you would like a more structured way to do this, writer Ann Voskamp has creative gratitude challenges to incorporate into each day.* Physically writing our appreciations down allows them to become more tangible, and provides us with the opportunity to reread and look back upon our many blessings when our gratitude lens gets shifted by the challenges of life.
Take a gratitude walk
If activity is your thing, this could help you multitask! A gratitude walk can involve a comfortable-paced walk somewhere in your neighborhood or a favorite nature area, while actively verbalizing the beauty that you see in God’s creation. Focus on using all 5 senses on the gratitude walk to really be mindful about how you are practicing gratitude. This can include “gratitude for the breeze on my cheeks in the heat of the day,” “gratitude for the soft feel of the grass after an afternoon rain,” or even “gratitude for those who empty park trash cans to help keep our world clean.” Really make this a full sensory experience and be intentional with what your senses take in. Voicing these appreciations out loud helps your mind and body truly take in the experience and provides personal time for active and focused reflection.
Consistently involve gratitude in prayer
Set aside a time in your prayer life to not only ask of the Lord, but to merely give thanks, further reinforcing the lens of gratitude while showing appreciation to God.
A prayer style to try: PART
- Praise: Use His names and give Him the glory: “Almighty One! True Healer! Source of Life! Loving Savior!”
- Admittance: Personal confessions to the Lord
- Request: What we are asking of God
- Thanksgiving: Gratitude for our many earthly and spiritual blessings
It’s easy to lose our lens of gratitude when life throws unpleasant and unexpected challenges our way. But taking the time to incorporate active and intentional gratitude practices can significantly impact how we view these challenges, and how we are able to get through the difficult days.
These tips take anywhere from 3-20 minutes, so plan what works best for your day! Here is the moral of the story: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Jesus Christ” —1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
*You can click here for a sample gratitude journal guide.
Interested in learning more about the practice of gratitude and its various physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits, as well as more tips and how to further incorporate this practice in your life? Counselor Jessica Landini provides an extended educational presentation for church, school, and community groups on the art of cultivating gratitude. Please click here to learn more.