The Practice of Gratitude
You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. LORD my God, I will praise you forever. (Psalm 30:11-12, NIV)
Dr. Brené Brown is a researcher who studies vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame. Over the course of 12 years and 11,000 pieces of data, her most surprising results revealed that joy and gratitude are intrinsically linked together.
A Jesuit priest has said, “For it is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.”
Start small and give your gratitude muscles time to get stronger.As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving Day tomorrow, I am wondering if this one day on our American calendar is really about authentic gratitude, or has it become just a good excuse to eat turkey and watch football?
I experience tension on Thanksgiving Day for several reasons. As a single woman, and one who battles believing that I belong anywhere, it takes a lot of effort to choose to show up with a vulnerable heart instead of hovering on the fringes and feeling out of place.
I also have no patience for counterfeit gratitude—something that seems to get thrown around on Thanksgiving Day like a hot potato leaving everyone feeling disconnected and exhausted. Many people I know, including myself, are struggling with physical pain, grief, broken relationships, surgeries, financial crisis, depression, or life transitions. How do we honor these black holes of despair and still enter into authentic gratitude that brings connection?
Practicing gratitude is not a one-day event, it is an invitation to daily mingle truth about where life is hard with gratitude for what is precious at any one moment.
How do we cultivate this practice of gratitude? The Hebrew word the psalmist used for praise in today’s scripture is yadah, which means “thanks, to hold out the hand, or with extended hands.” Gratitude, then, is not just a feeling or attitude; it also involves action.
Practicing gratitude isn’t much unlike practicing golf. It takes time and intentional focus. First, it requires an intentional shift in our focus from waiting for the other shoe to drop to naming what we are thankful for in our moments of uncertainty. Sometimes the decision to get out of bed in the morning is enough to be grateful for.
Keeping a gratitude journal every day is a wonderful way to create tangible reminders of God’s presence in the middle of our struggles. Another idea is to set alarms throughout the day to remind you to stop and say out loud what you are grateful for. Start small and give your gratitude muscles time to get stronger.
When we take time to intentionally practice our golf games, we become more attuned to our swings and the game becomes more enjoyable. Likewise, practicing gratitude begets more gratitude, creating a beautiful domino effect. The more we actively practice gratitude, the more we feel grateful. The more we feel grateful, the more sensitive we are to act altruistically toward others, and the pieces will continue to fall.
Today, I am grateful for you, our readers. Thank you for reading our words, for being a part of this journey we are on at Links Players, and for spurring all of us Devotional writers to be the best we can be.
November 23, 2016
Copyright 2016 Links Players International