“Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone.” English author G.B. Stern
Many people are struggling financially right now. There are those who are suffering with pain or illness and others who are trying to cope with the loss of a loved one. Gratitude is likely the last emotion standing during these types of challenges.
However it is possible to evoke a grateful demeanor even in the most trying circumstances. It may not come easily and certainly doesn’t happen without effort, but through intentional choice it can be done. But why bother? If you’re already using every ounce of energy just to survive, why add this extra work load into the mix?
For one thing, the Bible spells it out as a requirement to please God. “Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done.” 1st Chronicles 16:8.
If that’s not a reason you relate to, how about because it will keep you healthier, make you feel happier and certainly make you more popular (no one likes to hang out with Grumpy Gus or Sad Sally). Healthcare professionals agree that people who express gratitude are more optimistic and optimism improves the immune system. University of California Davis psychology professor Robert Emmons’ research indicates that “Grateful people take better care of themselves and engage in more protective health behaviors like regular exercise, a healthy diet, (and) regular physical examinations.”
Now that we’ve established the benefits of a grateful heart, what are the best ways to show it?
• Expressing it to the source: don’t forget say “thanks” to God once in a while. Just recognizing Him in the midst of things that allow you to feel grateful will reflect His sovereignty in the situation, making it even more meaningful.
• Tell people how much you appreciate them every chance you get. Be specific and let the full measure of your emotions shine through. Whether it is a simple “thanks” to the carry-out clerk or a long letter to your sister; say it loud and say it often.
• Return the favor by offering an act of kindness or token gift to those you appreciate. It will bring a smile to their face, which will bring one to yours.
• As per the movie of the same title, “Pay it Forward.” When people do nice things for you, look for opportunities to help someone else. There is nothing more special than a random act of kindness from an unexpected source.
• Be deliberate in conversation to present an overall attitude of gratitude. Work at remembering to not complain. Instead try to focus on the positive (“Only 60% of my hair has fallen out, so I still have 40%. Yay!)
• Sometimes you just have to fake it till you make it. Act like you’re grateful and soon some true, small grain of appreciation is sure to follow.
What are you grateful for? Have you done a stellar job of expressing it? Or, is there too much weighing you down to see the light of gratitude? Maybe sharing the burden will ease the load and you’ll be grateful for the relief.