“How happy a person is depends upon the depth of his gratitude.”
I tried as a young father to inculcate an attitude of gratitude in my children when they were young. I tucked them in at night, said a prayer with them, and then I’d ask, “What are you thankful for today?” I wanted them to appreciate who and what they had. The first sign of maturity in a young person is gratitude.
Now all of us know people who are thankful—they are appreciated and heartening to be around. Conversely, we can all think of a few self-centered, ungrateful people, who we, not surprisingly, tend to avoid.
Dan Sullivan, founder of The Strategic Coach, says: “We can achieve endless progress and success in our lives as long as we are increasingly grateful each step along the way. Lack of gratitude is one of the biggest obstacles to personal progress.”
In his pamphlet, “The Gratitude Principle”,Sullivan identifies three types of people who inevitably struggle: those who feel sorry for themselves, those who consider themselves “self-made”, and those who take their success for granted (“born on 3rd base”). As Life throws these people a curve, there is plenty of blame to go around, but certainly, they have no gratitude.
So, how do we create meaning and value from the inside out, rather than expecting good things to impact us—and make us happy–from the outside in?
Answer: take stock daily of what you’re thankful for.
Before you go to sleep tonight, take two minutes to answer these gratitude-inducing questions:
- What am I grateful/thankful for?
- Why am I thankful?
- How can I express my gratitude?
- First action to take
Here, I’ll show you what I come up with—in a few seconds:
- What am I grateful for? My health.
- Why am I thankful? I know I’m a wimp when I’m sick, nearly non-functional. So I’m glad to be currently healthy!
- How can I express my gratitude? Thank God, for starters, that He has blessed me with this.
- Action: Quick prayer reminder: 1 Thess. 5:18—“In everything give thanks….”
Taking a few minutes at night or first thing in the morning to ponder what you’re grateful for yields positive benefits. Doing this quick exercise for 21 days not only wards off cynicism, jadedness, resentment, and complacency, but also leads to a brighter, proactive outlook on life.
Your future is what you appreciate today.
What do you do to be thankful? How do you reframe your circumstances to be grateful?
Lee McCroskey | @rleemcc
Director of Leadership for Southwestern Advantage