Posted by: jmdenham | October 5, 2015

Practicing Gratitude

One of my goals in my life currently, although it has always really been a goal, is to be more grateful inwardly and to cultivate an identity that is recognized by gratitude. But even if it’s not always easy for me, it is probably a critical trait to develop.One way in which I want to do this is to begin and end each day with gratitude.

This is really important as I recognize life’s blessings all around me:

“I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness — it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.” ~Brene Brown

 One of the ways that I am trying to address this thirst for gratitude is to start my days in particular with gratitude.  I think this is where happiness starts for me, and for others in our search for Gods peace, as David Steindl-Rast says, “In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” (I found this quote in Brandy McDaniels Facebook last November)

I am really looking forward to starting mornings in with gratitude, because frankly, gratitude opens is the gift of reframing life’s events and struggles.  Melody Beattie puts it this way:

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”

Gratitude lets the morning be reflective of the sunrise, a day that is starting full of potential and the presence of God. It gives redemption before the day really even begins.  So what am I going to do?  

I have heard that by getting up and giving gratitude for 3-5 people is an excellent and simple way to begin each day.  I love this idea, and I want to use this too.  I want to broaden this though, to spending time as soon as I get up, being grateful for 3 people or events in my life who have been part of my journey, even just for moments.  I think it is so important that my gratitude is reflective of the journey of my life, because how I begin each day shows my past and speaks to my present and calls me forward into the potential of that day.  Nouwem said something about this aspect of gratitude:

“To be grateful for the good things that happen in our lives is easy, but to be grateful for all of our lives-the good as well as the bad, the moments of joy as well as the moments of sorrow, the successes as well as the failures, the rewards as well as the rejections-that requires hard spiritual work. Still, we are only truly grateful people when we can say thank you to all that has brought us to the present moment. As long as we keep dividing our lives between events and people we would like to remember and those we would rather forget, we cannot claim the fullness of our beings as a gift of God to be grateful for. Let’s not be afraid to look at everything that has brought us to where we are now and trust that we will soon see in it the guiding hand of a loving God.” ~From Henri Nouwen’s Daily Meditations

So every morning I am hoping to post on my blog my short morning reflections (titled “Morning by Morning”) on who and what I am grateful, for whom I pray blessings over and express my joy for their roles in my life. I may not post every day for the rest of my life or even the year, but I am in search of developing a habit of gratitude where gratefulness and joy become a unflinching part of my life, where I don’t think about being grateful, but it is seen as part of who I am and to let God’s presence flow through me because of it.

“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.” ~John Milton

May it be in my life, morning by morning, his mercies I see!

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