Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 5:16–19, ESV)
Gratitude is a lot like exercise. When you don’t run, it is hard to run. But when you start to run, the more you can run, and the easier it is to run. You start to run faster and farther.
When you don’t practice gratitude, it is hard to be grateful. But when you start to appreciate your blessings, the more you will see blessings, and the easier it will be to express gratitude for those blessings. Not only will your gratitude be triggered more easily, but the depth of your gratitude will grow.
As we celebrate Thanksgiving this week, I want to challenge you to exercise your gratitude muscle. Write down as many things as you can for which you are grateful. You might start with 20. You might start at 50. You might start with 100. The important thing is that you actually write them down. Put it on paper. Make a note on your phone. Type it into your computer. Record your thoughts in a voice memo.
Then let the list sit. After you have let the list sit for a day, take it out again. Review the list. Write down at least 10 more things that were not previously on the list. You might really stretch yourself and try to double your list.
Here is my bet. You will be able to come up with things on the second day that you were not able to come up with on the first day. The reason is that when you practice gratitude it will increase your awareness and sense of gratitude throughout the day. Stronger gratitude will help you see things you failed to notice when you had a weaker gratitude. Gratefulness begets gratefulness. Thankfulness increases thankfulness. Appreciation expands appreciation.
Are you up to the challenge? If not, how will you exercise gratitude in your life?