Saturday I woke up feeling bleh. Nothing was really wrong, but the house was messier than I’d like, the kids were arguing, and I didn’t get enough sleep the night before. It’s not easy to choose to be grateful every day.

Some days are just bleh and others are downright tough. But there is always something to be thankful for if you look hard enough.

Gratitude is a choice

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There are so many things that happen in life that are beyond our control. The unexpected happens in both good and bad ways.

Sometimes we’re pleasantly surprised when circumstances work out to our favor. Other times, at no fault of our own, things go south.

Relationships don’t work out the way we’d like, jobs aren’t as secure as we once believed, people get sick, and accidents happen. It can feel so depressing and like life is just happening to us.

While we don’t get to choose all the circumstances that occur in our lives, there is something we do get to control. We get to choose our attitude and response.

We can choose to look at those unfortunate circumstances and feel overwhelmed or beaten down by them. We can choose to let them take over our lives and our feelings. Or we can choose to look for gratitude even in the most difficult times.

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That doesn’t mean that things aren’t still hard or challenging. We can be real about those situations being tough, but we can also choose to look for the good and find something to be thankful for even when we are going through a rough season.

It may not change your circumstances, but gratitude changes you and your perspective.

Gratitude is a personal practice. It isn’t something we impose on someone in the midst of their own crisis. In those instances, offer a listening ear and empathy.

But in your own life, see how practicing gratitude changes your thoughts and feelings.

You will find what you seek

Do you see the glass as half full or half empty? The lens through which you see the world drastically impacts your experiences and perspective.

Do you know someone who can find the negative even in what appears to be a really great situation? Or what about the person who always seems to find the silver lining regardless of how dire the circumstances may seem? Which person do you want to be?

You will find what you seek. If you are looking for people to be unkind to you, you will find and focus on those moments when you feel you weren’t treated fairly.

Likewise, if you look for kindness, you will focus on moments when you have felt cared for, supported, and loved.

You’ll find evidence to support what you are looking for so be thoughtful in what you choose to seek.

You’re not a victim of your life. It may feel like that when things are not going the way we hoped or planned, but a victim mentality will do nothing except reinforce negative thoughts and feelings. You will find what you seek.

Where do you dwell?

If you choose to look for hope, love, and kindness, you will find them. And your attitude will be one of joy and positivity that you can share with others even in the midst of trials.

It’s empowering to think that even if we can’t choose every aspect of what happens in our lives, we do get to choose our attitude and response.

Where do your thoughts tend to dwell? Are you feeding positive thoughts or negative ones? Choose to change negative thought patterns and remove the mental and emotional clutter.

The overcomers in life make great things out of terrible circumstances and choose to be grateful. They look for the good and focus on it.

They choose to keep moving forward despite obstacles and setbacks. Giving up isn’t an option. Perseverance and determination to pursue positivity wins.

Habits

When you make the decision repeatedly to look for good and be grateful, it will start to become a habit. Anything that we do repeatedly becomes easier and less effortful as time goes on. As you repeatedly practice gratitude it will begin to become second nature.

A few years ago, I went through a challenging season. Some days it seemed like it would never end. I felt powerless to change my circumstances, which to a type A go-getter was very frustrating. It was not easy to try and choose to be grateful.

During this time I was being mentored by a woman at my church. We decided that we would read the book, One Thousand Gifts by Anne Voskamp. We challenged each other to start a habit of gratitude by writing down things we were grateful for every day.

What really stuck with me from reading One Thousand Gifts was that there is joy to be found in the mundane. We’re often so distracted in life that it’s easy to let the gifts pass you by without noticing them. Gratitude takes intentionality.

Starting a new habit takes thought and effort. Slowing down and noticing takes time and energy. Creating a habit of gratitude is worth the work. It will change your perspective.

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How to start a gratitude practice

Many of us focus on doing a daily gratitude practice in the month of November, but what if we instead choose to be grateful every day?

Starting a gratitude practice can be as simple as listing a few things that you are grateful for each day. There are journals that focus on gratitude. I have The 5 Minute Journal, which is a popular choice.

Another option is the Good Days Start with Gratitude Journal. If you already have a journal you use, simply add a few things you are grateful for in it each day.

Another way to incorporate gratitude is by adding it to your daily task list. This is precisely why I included the ‘today I am thankful for’ section in the daily task list on the Simply Scheduled Workbook.

If journals and task lists aren’t your thing, create a gratitude jar. Cut small pieces of paper where you write simple things you are thankful for and then put them in a jar.

When you are feeling down or discouraged you have a journal, list, or jar you can refer to and remember the things you’re thankful for. Gratitude is a choice so choose to be grateful every day and your life will be all the more joyful for it.

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19 Comments

  1. I really appreciated the part where you said you find what you seek. It really is true.
    I think appreciation is the key to simple living because if you don’t notice how fortunate you are in so many ways you are always looking for more but if you foster appreciation and gratitude for life what you have it’s easy to be content.

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