Cultivating Gratitude

Dear Jack,

Gratitude is underrated.  It’s something that’s quickly looked over in our constant drive for the next best thing(s).  There’s nothing wrong with motivation and seeking to better our lives … but too often I’ve found myself doing so without paying proper respect to what I already have.  Much of which I didn’t even earn, let alone deserve.  I could spend time at length here bemoaning the things we have taken as granted – but I’d rather not and just talk about what I’m doing to raise my own awareness of gratitude.

I recently read Tim Sanders book, Today We Are Rich, which is probably one of the best five books I’ve ever read.  In it, he talks often about how “rich” we are – and not in the material sense necessarily.  And this richness is often tarnished because we don’t realize its there.  Tim recommends a whole host of ways to raise our personal awareness of our riches, some of which I’ve adapted.

The following list is a few practices I’ve started incorporating into my daily life.  They are a result of reading Tim’s book and adapting some things I’ve already been in the practice of doing.  I think it’s critical not only that we cultivate our own gratefulness, but that we also cultivate the gratefulness of those around us.  And so, here’s what I’ve been doing daily the past few weeks:

  • At the end of my “pregame” time in the mornings, I physically record in my journal one thing I’m grateful for.  This has ranged from my beautiful wife, to my job, to a cup of hot tea.  The weightiness of the subject’s not important – just the recognition of it is.
  • Before praying at dinner at night, we go around the table and have each person identify something they’re personally grateful for, ideally said in one word.  This has been a lot of fun, especially hearing what Adrianna’s thankful for.  She’s been on a streak of expressing her gratitude for food lately, which I think is awesome.  This is a fantastic way of getting the family to share what’s on their heart and there is something communal that’s unifying and uplifting about it.  Then whoever is praying makes sure to thank God for each of these things.
  • Immediately after recording what I’m grateful for in my “pregame” I identify a giving opportunity.  This could be financial, but most times it’s not.  It can be an introduction of friends, the passing on of some good information, writing a letter to a Compassion child, or just a commitment to bless Lydia with all my heart that day.  In Today We Are Rich, Tim talks about the power of giving.  It forces us to focus on what we have, and not on what we’re lacking.  There’s a powerful psychological force behind this – one that I don’t fully understand, but can relate to.
Gratitude.  It’s something we should be in rich supply of, Jack – and as we express it, I feel it is truly a gift that keeps on giving.  There are few things that drain me more than being around someone who complains constantly, especially if I can see they have much to be thankful for.  Gratitude is the antidote – and it’s also a key ingredient for finding contentment in life.  I hope these few tips can help you in your own quest of showing gratitude in life.  Till next time, Jack.

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