Gratitude: the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
I love how the definition of gratitude describes that there is a “quality” of being thankful and a “readiness” to show appreciation. Becoming a grateful person is not as much about feeling grateful or thankful, although this definitely takes place. However, there are many times in life where we are facing challenging circumstances and the “feelings” of gratitude aren’t naturally present. These are the times where it is important to remember that gratitude is similar to a skill we can develop or a muscle that we can strengthen.
Just like any skill, gratitude takes time and intention to develop. I encourage you as we enter into Thanksgiving week, that you turn your attention to gratitude. Try practicing throughout the day when you see your family members, sit down for Thanksgiving dinner, and while you enjoy whatever traditions you have for the day, take each moment and connect with Father God and pour out your affections and thankfulness on Him. Keep thankfulness on your lips and look for moments that you may normally let slip past you, and give thanks. If something happens that is unpleasant (which lets be honest can happen when all of the family gets together) practice choosing gratitude. Find something to be grateful for, believe the best about the people around you, and trust that God is working it all together for your good.
The more that you focus on gratitude, the more effortless it will become. I’ve read that in baseball whenever the pitcher looks away right before pitching the ball it is because they are allowing muscle memory to take over from all of their practice. In that moment they can rely on all of the training they have done and execute their best pitch. In many ways practicing gratitude is similar, the more you choose gratitude, the more it becomes like second nature. At this point, you’ll find yourself ready to show appreciation and full of a grateful quality without even having to be as intentional about it. It will become like second nature to give thanks for all of the incredible things God has done for us.
Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.
Oh, give thanks to the God of gods! For His mercy endures forever.
Oh, give thanks to the Lord of lords! For His mercy endures forever
-Psalm 136: 1-3