It’s easy for many of us to get stuck in our circumstances and forget to cultivate gratitude. I’ve been there and in difficult places … maybe the hard places become a sticky place keeping us stuck instead of moving forward.
Over the years, I’ve found tips that help me remember to be grateful. The first is to listen for when my emotions start to surface and then give them a label–by naming them. The second is to listen to the specific thoughts I’m thinking–listen with curiosity and ask myself–Is this a helpful or unhelpful way to think? How much of my time is focused on these thoughts? If it is all consuming to me, then there is not much room in my mind for cultivating gratitude. The third is to ask: What do I need and what is one thing I can think of doing to ask for help or support around that need–so I can become unstuck?
I have found that processing my difficult experiences in helpful ways and giving them a rightful place is good, but to allow them to take up ALL of my attention isn’t helpful for me. It means that all the other good in my life gets squeezed out–like how I’m thankful for, my health, my family, my church, my friends, my hobbies, the outdoors, etc.
Cultivating gratitude affects my mood, my outlook, and my behavior.
When I choose to believe that God is a good God and praise Him, through music, singing or prayer it really opens my heart to seeing new things for which I can be grateful. For often in these moments, my heart is given a fresh glimpse of how God loves me, and how He might see things differently than me.
It is good, isn’t it, to be reminded regularly that God is a good God? Despite what our circumstances may be telling us, He does have a purpose and a plan. Remembering to look toward Him first and letting his goodness fill my gaze, helps my heart and my mind get unstuck and grow with gratitude.
Cultivating a heart of gratitude helps me shift focus, see things anew, and enter into a place of hopefulness … all because I chose cultivating gratitude.