Affirmation: I am gratefully and wonderfully blessed!
There is an art to gratitude. There is a form, structure, a knack for growing it, developing it, and subsequently owning it as a way of life. But why does it matter? Why grow gratitude? Why spend the time developing it? Aren’t there other fun, uplifting, exciting things to do with one’s time?
The art of gratitude means there is a way to live feeling thankful as a general state of awareness—on good days and not-so-good days, in times when things are going great or in times when things look and feel tough. How? Grow your gratitude and strive to keep it thriving.
Two methods I’ve found helpful to activate the art of gratitude are perspective and attitude. Approach gratitude from a perspective that it is a gift you give yourself and those whose lives are connected to yours. Shift away from the mindset that you are spending time developing gratefulness. Rather, practice gratitude as an investment.
Practicing that which builds a grateful mind and heart is an investment in your own health, success, joy, and prosperity. As we invest in ourselves, we are shaping the life we desire and consciously choosing the path ahead.
The second method is to adopt an attitude for growing your gratitude, especially in ways that can be uplifting, fun, and inspiring. Try finishing this sentence with words that are inspiring for you: “I am gratefully and wonderfully blessed when ___.”
Here are some that apply for me:
- “I am gratefully and wonderfully blessed when I hold my grandson in my arms.”
- “I am gratefully and wonderfully blessed when I watch the sunrise on a clear day.”
- “I am gratefully and wonderfully blessed when I’m dancing and singing like nobody is watching.”
The point is, with each expression I’m investing in me. I’m investing in my life. I’m investing in how I plan to think and feel in my future. I’m growing my gratitude.
The practical side of growing your gratitude can be remembered as the A-R-T of Gratitude:
A is Act. Act as if you expect to discover something to be grateful for in everything that comes your way, as well as everything that seems to be complete. Why act as if? Because as you consciously practice this state of awareness, in time it will become a natural action and response toward the small stuff.
When the big stuff comes your way—that which is not so easily seen as something to be grateful for—your fallback position, your default response, will be to act as if there is something, some part of what is happening, to be grateful for.
Start small. Find something in every set of circumstances that you can genuinely be grateful for. The key idea here is “genuinely.” This will take work in some predicaments. That’s okay—it gives us something positive to focus on as we are searching for a situation, looking for something good. But look with an intentional eye, a purposeful view.
A scripture that haunted me in my early days of not understanding how to live in the Art of Gratitude is from 1 Thessalonians 5:18: “Give thanks in all circumstance, for this is the will of God …” It tells us there is always something to be grateful for, and it deserves being discovered. Look trusting. Look knowing. Look expecting to find something that is a blessing, and it will be unveiled.
It is the will of the Divine that we notice what is good in our lives and affairs, and dwell on it. Take a moment now and look for blessings in your life that the person who is untrained, unpracticed, and unskilled in the Art of Gratitude may not see as anything to be grateful for. The more we notice the good in our lives, the more it will rush toward us for our attention, use, and enjoyment.
R is for Release. Release the regrets and resentments that can easily build up inside and block our ability to see the good in our lives. Regret and resentment are like viruses that can spread and thereby affect those aspects of our lives that are otherwise going well.
To let go of nagging regret and resentment, of course pray, of course meditate, engage in all the spiritual practices you know. If the feelings still persist, find a counselor, coach, or trusted friend and unload the issue and all its remnants—once. Once and for all, let this be the opportunity to let it go. Set the intention that after this pouring out from within, it is finished. Declare: It is finished. And let it be so.
T is for Trust. Trust in divine life, divine order, and a well-orchestrated divine plan for your life. Trust the highest part of your being to guide you to the blessings that make for a life you desire. Trust that the challenges you face can and will be overcome in ways that are for your highest good.
Trust that life is good, even as you are searching your circumstances to realize it. Trust that you are and have the awareness of grace, as Spirit is always with you, no matter where you go or what you do.
The more you live in the A-R-T of Gratitude, the more you can expect your heart to someday sing, even when you least expect it, “How Great Thou ART!”
For more on the art of gratitude, request our booklet, "Gratitude and Grace," which explores the transformative power of gratitude.