One thing that I have heard over and over attributed as a key component to living a successful and fulfilling life is gratitude. A recent study found that about 71% of Americans see millennials as selfish and 64% as entitled. While this may appear true that people around my age show signs of being entitled and selfish, it really seems to me that among most adults there is not a sense of gratitude. Whether it is entitlement driven, or driven by pride because of hard work exerted, we struggle to be grateful for our life and what we have. This leads us to a self-serving attitude.
Now I do want to say that there is nothing wrong with desiring more for your life, or wanting the best for your family. But we can’t let that be our main focus. We also need to live in the moment and take time to be thankful for things around us. This eventually leads to an ongoing attitude of gratitude.
There are four things that we can do right now to begin our process of being more grateful and showing more gratitude in what God has already given us.
First, look at everyday blessings. Choose to put the emphasis on the things that you do have instead of things that you wish you had. While there are big things in your life that are everyday blessings, like a job or a big opportunity that just fell in your lap, there are also tons of little things that we sometimes forget about. Running water, not only clean water, but clean running water that we can get to exactly the temperature that we desire. Three meals a day, and a safe warm bed to sleep in every single night. We should remember these and be thankful.
Second, go outside and be in nature. Paul makes an excellent point in Romans 1, when he points out that God is revealed through His creation. Nature is a display of God’s creativity and goodness. There are countless verses in the Psalms about how the heavens reflect the glory of God, and the skies proclaim His work. It is also great to see flowers and the birds, because Jesus tells us very plainly that even those things, though they don’t work hard, they are fed and clothed every day. He also tells us that if we seek His kingdom, that will be granted to us as well. Being around what God has made is a great reminder of how grateful we should be.
Third, remember how much God loves us. This may be something that we don’t really think about, but it should be. It’s easy to dismiss God’s love when we hear about it so often. But when we just hear it and don’t look for it, or try to feel it, it is easy for us to be complacent about the love that we have been shown. Be mindful of the mighty love that God has showed so freely to you.
And finally, try to think past your current pain. When we dwell on our current pain, stress, or hard situation, it is easy to not feel grateful. But we are reminded in James 1:2-3 that we should “Consider it pure joy my brothers whenever you go through trials of many kinds, because you know the trials of your faith develop perseverance.” When we look past our pain, we can see how God can use it, and then, even in our pain, we can count it a joy and show our great gratitude.
This is not an easy task, but it is important to show God and others our gratitude for what we have in our lives already. So take one of these things, really work on it, and then keep going.