Gratitude is a good discipline to start with because it helps us acknowledge God’s provision in the past and promised provisions in the future.
It doesn’t mean ignoring difficulties. It means seeing something other than difficulties.
For instance, 2013 was often a confusing and discouraging year for me. It was tempting at times to not acknowledge anything but confusion and discouragement. However, the fact is that in the midst of perceived difficulty I was generally safe, healthy, fed, housed, clothed, and able to access friends and family for social support.
If it’s always been the case that we’ve been reasonably safe, healthy, fed, housed, clothed, and supported then I’m afraid we take these things for granted and heartfelt gratitude becomes a forgotten — but particularly necessary — discipline.
A few ways to get into gratitude if we’re not so used to it:
- start a gratitude journal, taking note of one thing you’re thankful for each day
- go throughout your day noticing the things you use, eat, do, etc., considering gratitude for each of them
- get reality checks by spending time with people in life circumstance dissimilar from your own, prayerfully watching or reading the news, or trying this on-line activity called “Spent” (I highly recommend it)
By doing the last 2 of those bullet points in the last several days, I’ve become grateful for things I usually take for granted like the following:
- a job
- housing (and the ability to get things fixed like when the toilet stopped being able to flush 2 days ago)
- medications (I might have actually “said grace” before taking my daily Claritin and acne med one day this week, a lot like thanking God before a meal…)
- access to education, books, extracurricular activities, and field trips growing up