Give Yourself the Gift of Gratitude

Posted On November 6, 2020

“I tried for years to flip off the negative-attitude switch and click on joy,” my friend Paul told me. “I read books and memorized scripture passages about the joy of the Lord. I even posted a choose joy sticker on my refrigerator. But it wasn’t until I practiced gratitude I finally experienced joy.”

“How do you practice gratitude?” I asked.

“Every morning before I get out of bed, I cocoon in my  sheets for five minutes or so and bring to mind at least three things for which I’m  grateful.” His smile sparkled. “I call it my ‘gift of gratitude’ ritual.”

“Looks like it’s working.”

“I list the things I’m grateful for—such as the simple fact I woke up that morning, or the gift of my spouse, children, and friends. Gratitude for God and faith are often on my list as I greet the morning.” Paul chuckled. “This simple practice jumpstarts my day better than morning coffee.”

Brother David Steindl-Rast, in Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer—An Approach to Life in Fullness, says that joy is the offspring of gratitude. Practicing gratefulness is our raison d’etre. Like a bell is made for ringing, our human hearts are made for praising and blessing everything with which we’ve been gifted. He writes, “Suddenly everything is simple. What brings fulfillment is gratefulness, the simple response of our heart to this given life in all its fullness.”

Maybe Paul and Brother David are onto something. Inspired by them, I began an attitude of gratitude ritual the next morning.

As I snuggled in my bedsheets on that wintry November dawn, I was thankful for my dad, who fought in World War II, and all the other veterans and military men and women who’ve served and continue to preserve our country’s freedom. I put health on my mental gratitude list, and my wife, children, grandchildren, and friends. God’s continued guidance and faithfulness rounded out the list.

Now each morning when my alarm rings, rather than grumbling, “Ugh. Is it really morning?” or jumping out of bed in a cold panic, I give myself the gift of five minutes to practice gratitude.

During the day when life’s challenges try to rechain my heart to negativity, I return to my gratitude list and feel the glowing ember of joy rekindle in my soul.  

Cultivating an attitude of gratitude is good medicine for our souls. It focuses our thoughts away from the negative brain drain that crowds out joy. It’s like celebrating Thanksgiving all year round.

Tomorrow morning before you get out of bed, give yourself the gift of five minutes to snuggle in your sheets and make a mental gratitude list. As the day ages and drains your energy, pause and bring to mind what you’re grateful for. At the dinner table, share your gratitude list with loved ones and invite them to name the things they’re grateful for also.

Then pay attention and watch as joy takes root in your heart.

Give yourself the gift of daily gratitude. It nurtures boundless joy.

—brian j plachta


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Written by Brian J. Plachta

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