Start with a Grateful, Child-like Heart
In most elementary school music classes, the kiddos are taught songs for each holiday. At the elementary school that I had the privilege to work at, every year, the music teacher would teach the kindergartners a song around Thanksgiving time called Gratitude Attitude. Just like any other repetitious song, the words would become engrained in my head; “I’ve got a gratitude attitude, I’ve got a gratitude attitude. Yeah… yeah… yeah…!”
After a couple weeks of learning it, not only would it get stuck in my head, but I began to sing along with them, “What are you grateful for? What are you grateful for?”
Between each question, each child would have a chance to share one thing that they were grateful for; just like some of us do on Thanksgiving Day, as we go around the family table.
I can recall one of my kindergarten kiddos yelling across the room at me, “Miss White, what are YOU grateful for???” And, at that moment, I actually had to think about it. I mean, yes, I am very grateful for many things, but when I was put on the spot, I had to pause to come up with an answer. This caused me to realize that I wasn’t living in a constant state of gratitude.
I learned a lesson that day, that being grateful is a continuous decision. I learned that if I make gratitude a priority, there will always be something at the forefront of my mind.
The Word of God tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” To me, this scripture means that God wants us to be thankful no matter what is going on in our lives. He wants us to always have a grateful heart.
Now, I am not negating the fact that there will be times when we will feel less than grateful for some of the situations or circumstances that are occurring in our lives; but, what I am saying is that there is always something to give thanks for. There will always be a legitimate, positive counter for your complaint – no matter what it is.
For example, yes, it may be cold outside, but you’re alive to feel the cold wind hit your face. No, you may not really want to go to work, but thank God you have a job. You may not drive a Lexus, but you’re driving – and the list goes on!
I have even gotten to the point, at times, where the only good thing that I could think of was the fact that God was still good. And, that’s more than OK!
SO, WHAT’S THE PLAY CALL?
Just as you consciously get dressed, eat, and go to work each day, make a conscious decision to be grateful. There are so many things that go on in our day-to-day lives, that it is more than easy to complain; it may even seem convenient or relieving, but fight those feelings. Be intentional about living a grateful life. My brother always says, “When I think, I thank.” This means that every time I have a thought, gratitude should be flowing from it.
This may take some effort for some of us (and that’s alright). If you’re in a tight spot and can’t seem to think of anything, refer to Philippians 4:8, which says, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Just begin to speak, out loud, things that are good.
Here are a few tips that I have found to be helpful when working to have an attitude of gratitude:
- Make a list of things that you are grateful for and read it aloud each day.
- Write “grateful items” on sticky notes and place them around your house.
- When you pray, ask God to help you to have a more grateful attitude.
- Give. Giving often causes me to be grateful because it reminds me that I have to actually give.
- Read, recite, and write down “grateful” scriptures to help you throughout your day.
Here are a few to get you started: Psalms 107:1, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Psalms 92:1, Ephesians 5:20, Psalms 68:19.
So, just as you sat around the family table and shared what you’re grateful for on Thanksgiving Day, I challenge you to make expressing gratitude a habit that extends beyond the holiday season. Let it become part of your daily routine.
I challenge you to lead a life of gratitude.