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Practicing Gratitude in 2016

December 29, 2015

Missy shares with us through video and writing how powerful the practice of gratitude can be to one's life and to those around them. Use this as a testament to being more grateful in this next year ahead. Whenever there's a moment of doubt, take a step back and appreciate the great things still happening all around you...

I guess I never realized how deeply connected joy and gratitude really are until I began the practice of gratitude.  These days, one can find multiple articles on happiness; however, I think gratitude is an essential key to well-being.  It helps us see our situation in a way that can lessen panic, and could open up our thinking to new solutions. Practicing gratitude means to literally verbalize specifics as to what one is grateful for or jotting those things down on paper. No one is hardwired to be grateful. And, like any skill worth having, gratitude requires practice. 

Gratitude is definitely a gift from God. When we practice gratitude, we re-experience the good things that are present in our lives, which then produces feelings of joy.  I think in today’s culture, humans are so fast-paced and focused on what we need to obtain.  We also focus on what we don’t have and find ourselves constantly living in a state of scarcity.  It is as if our emotional battery is always draining like a cell phone battery.  We simply get on the hamster wheel of life and never feel like we have accomplished enough, are rich enough, thin enough, successful enough and basically just not enough. You fill in your blank. 

We are a fearful culture. Yet, I know gratitude has given me not only a true sense of joy but freedom from worry.  Growing up in a home that practiced worry more than almost anything, I was a natural worrier.   When things went well, I wondered when the shoe was going to drop, staying in a state of preparedness, squandering my joy of individual moments and living in the negative fantasy that defines worry.  This was exhausting.  Gratitude practice has changed all of that for me.  Now when my mind goes to worry, it is simply a prompt to begin a gratitude prayer for the things that are a good and present reality for me. 

Every day starts with a gratitude list of things as small as hot coffee and snoring pugs to larger things like my home, husband, son, etc.  Also, as a family we have begun to state 3-5 things we are grateful for at the dinner table.  Those items range from a canceled soccer workout to a good result on a test, a great meeting, the end of the day or simply being grateful for one another.  These practices have made a huge difference in our mindset for everyday ventures. Even my teenage son’s prayers reflect a more thankful disposition and if you have teenagers, you know that is no small deal! 

Gratitude helps me remember the small yet special things in my life; the moments I don’t want to miss.  Research shows that people who have lost loved ones actually miss the little things about them the most; things they bypassed and failed to fully take in due to the busy nature of life. 

The practice of gratitude also helps bank emotional energy for those times in life when we face trials. These trials are inevitable; we face them as part of being alive on this earth. God promises us in the Bible that in life we will have trials (James 1:2) and He also tells us to be anxious for nothing but in everything pray and be thankful, for peace will guard our hearts. (Phil 4:6) 

Gratitude practice has changed my life and it can change yours too.  Make a list of whatever comes to mind in the morning as you sip your cup of coffee. I think all of us have many things to be thankful for if we really think about it.  I truly believe the antidote to this culture’s striving and fear-based mindset could be tremendously impacted by the practice of gratitude.  Try it for 30 days and let us know what happens!  Have a great and joyful new year! 

I leave you with a few quotes to chew on! 

“Life is a gift, totally given to you without cost. A daily and chosen ‘attitude of gratitude’ will keep your hands open to allow and receive life at ever deeper levels of satisfaction. Those who live with such open and humble hands receive life's gifts in abundance and throughout their years, ("full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over into their lap" Luke 6:38). “ --Richard Rhor

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” --William Arthur Ward “

I don't have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness - it's right in front of me if I'm paying attention and practicing gratitude.” -- Brene Bro reading:  One Thousand Gifts by Anne Voscamp Purchase it here - - - - - -

This holiday season, we asked some of our team to share what they are most thankful for and what the holidays really mean to them. Watch their #ThankfulThoughts below:



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