At the beginning of 2016, I decided to write down three things I was grateful for. Every single day.
The real question was how consistent I would be.
My Gratitude Data
It took me over an hour to pour through my 2 journals from 2016. I counted every day I missed and subtracted it from 366 days. Here are the numbers from my gratitude project:
I missed 55 days
I was consistent for 311 days
311 days x 3 gratitudes= 933 gratitudes
My first response was surprise. How did I miss that many days? If only this article was entitled, “Why I Wrote Down 1,098 Things I’m Grateful For”!
The first couple of months were easy but as time moved on, thinking of things to be grateful for became much harder.
That is what surprised me the most.
A Gratitude Eye-Opener
Let’s be honest. You can only write down you’re grateful for oatmeal, a home, and your Pilot G-2 pen so many times.
I wanted to write something down each time that was unique and different. As I forced myself to go through this process every day, it opened my eyes to 2 things:
1. The reality of how ungrateful I was.
2. The truth that nurturing an attitude of gratitude takes work.
And therein lies the problem.
But I Am Grateful!
In college, my favorite professor spent an entire class talking about gratefulness. He explained that Christian young people’s greatest failure was … you guessed it, ungratefulness.
Here’s the irony: most people would say they are grateful. We have convinced ourselves that we appreciate all the blessings around us. And we have blinded ourselves to the depths of our ingratitude.
If that’s true, what should our response be? Before we begin working on our ungratefulness, let’s gain a deeper understanding of gratefulness first.
The Source of Gratitude
In some circles, talking about gratitude has become “trendy,” even “cool.” And that’s a problem.
If you do a cursory study on gratefulness, you’ll find that gratitude leads to many benefits. Researchers have discovered that gratitude contributes to positivity, well-being, and overall happiness. The evidence for the connection between gratefulness and health is incredible.
Don’t get me wrong — all those are wonderful things. But what’s interesting is that I often see gratitude prescribed as a secret to happiness. If you want more positivity and better health, pursue gratefulness.
And that seriously misses the point.
Gratitude? Missing the point?
Let me explain.
In Deuteronomy, the Hebrew people are on the brink of the promised land. It was a land flowing with milk and honey, full of brooks, fountains, springs, valleys, hills, wheat, barley, vines, fig trees, pomegranates, olives, honey, and bread.
Before they enter in, claim this land, and enjoy the blessings, Moses reminds the people:
“And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land he has given you.” – Deuteronomy 8:10
Moses wanted the people to look beyond what they had been given. To not just be thankful for the blessings, but to see the Source of the blessings. To praise, bless, and adore God from whom all goodness flows.
We pursue gratitude not because it is the secret to happiness. We pursue gratitude for deeper joy in God. Health, happiness, and well-being are just icing on the cake.
The Secret Formula to Gratitude
C. S. Lewis puts it this way:
I have tried…to make every pleasure into a channel of adoration. I don’t mean simply by giving thanks for it. One must of course give thanks, but I mean something different. How shall I put it? …Gratitude exclaims, very properly, ‘How good of God to give me this.’ Adoration says, ‘What must be the quality of that Being whose far-off and momentary coruscations [“sparkling or flashing light”] are like this!’ One’s mind runs back up the sunbeam to the sun. (Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer)
Gratitude is only half of the equation. We need: gratitude + adoration
Yes, be grateful. Have an attitude of gratitude by:
Writing down what you are grateful for daily.
Sending a personal note to thank someone.
Telling someone how much you appreciate them.
Put the gratefulness into action. But don’t stop there. Follow those sunbeams back to the Sun. Look to the Source – our glorious Creator and Lord – and adore Him.
To Him we praise with thanksgiving!
“I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.” – Psalm 7:17
“Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!” – Psalm 100:4
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