How to Be Grateful for Your Life
Throughout the Bible, we’re called to “be thankful” and “give thanks.” Why? Because we have a lot to be grateful for! We won’t become thankful by accident, but with an intentional habit of gratitude, we’ll become even better versions of ourselves as we follow Jesus.
The Basic Habits of Gratitude
The secret of happiness is to count your blessings while others are adding up their trouble. — William Penn
As we read God’s Word, we can see the theme of being thankful. There are hundreds of verses telling us to give thanks or offer praise to God. Outside of the Bible, you’ll find lots of articles and research stating the benefits that come with being a grateful person. People who are thankful are known to be depressed less, get better grades in school, sleep better, stay healthy, have deeper friendships, and have a brighter outlook on life. Basically, gratitude is good for you!
In 1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Living as grateful people is God’s will for our lives. God knew before the beginning of time how positively gratitude would affect us — long before an article or book was written about the topic. So, whether your life is moving along smoothly or it feels like you’re walking in quicksand, consider adding these daily habits to your life:
- Create new pathways. Dr. Caroline Leaf, cognitive neuroscientist and author, said, “As you think, you change the structure of your brain.” This isn’t easy. But, we have a choice in what we think about, so let’s allow thoughts of gratefulness to fill our minds.
- Choose five things. Make a daily habit to say or write five things you’re thankful for. You can do it any time of the day — morning or night!
- Set a gratitude alarm. Choose different times in the day. When the alarm goes off, ask God to bring to mind the blessings and gifts in your life and thank Him for them.
- Tell someone. Every day, talk to someone about what you’re thankful for. Maybe it’s their friendship, the sunrise, a powerful moment with God, or an unexpected blessing you received. Saying it makes it more real.
It’s vital that we make our gratitude habitual so that when life’s storms come upon us, we know how to navigate the rough waters. And part of this is trusting God and even choosing to be grateful when we don’t understand the world around us.
As we build this gratitude muscle, it won’t be something we have to think about — it’ll become as natural as breathing.
Relating to people is the heartbeat of our lives. We’ll rarely go a day without having interactions with other people in our many roles. We’re daughters, sons, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends, and more. As we think about the different roles we have, let’s consider our gratitude level. Are we thankful for the people God has put in our lives? Do we express our gratefulness to (and for) them?
Maybe you’re in a marriage that’s become stale. It could be that there’s tension with a longtime friend. Or perhaps, you feel there’s too much stress between you and your child. Regardless if there’s strain or not, we have clear instructions from Romans 12 about how to treat others: be devoted to each other, honor each other, practice hospitality, and live at peace with each other, to name a few. As we learn how to be grateful for the people in our lives, here are some extra tips to help us:
- Replace complaints with compliments. This can be a challenge, can’t it? Most of us are prone to see the things that frustrate us instead of the things that bless us. Let’s choose to see the good!
- Serve someone. There’s someone in your life who’s load is heavier than yours. Show your gratitude by doing something that would lighten their burden.
- Write it down. Write down something you’re grateful for about the people in your life. Write it on a note and leave it for them to find, or have an ongoing list and give it to them when you reach 50 or 100 things. Imagine the look on their faces!
- Just say “thanks.” When we have eyes to see the gifts and blessings in our lives, we’ll see there’s much to be thankful for. So, daily thank your spouse, your child, your closest friend, or someone else for one thing.
It’s been said that we are like the people we spend the most time with. Who we allow in our personal inner circles affects our gratitude quotient. Be mindful of who you spend time with. One of the more challenging things in our relationships is that we may be willing to change, but other people may not. Sometimes that means relational adjustments are necessary.
No matter who’s in our lives, we can’t neglect our role in growing our gratitude. As Galatians 6:9 NIV says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” As we express our thankfulness for — and to — the people in our lives, we’ll be overwhelmed by how it changes us, and in the process, we’ll get to watch it impact them.
In Psalm 139, we see a beautiful blueprint of how intimately God knows each of us. He “created our inmost beings,” “knit us together in our mother’s womb,” and “saw our unformed body.” He calls us “fearfully and wonderfully made.” How amazing is our God!
In this fallen world in which we live, there will be struggles each of us face. Sometimes a health challenge is thrust upon us, while other times, we bring things upon ourselves.
Regardless of where we are in these areas of our health, when we wake up each day, we have reason to thank God for our spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical health. Let’s consider these habits as we walk in gratitude for our health:
- Honor your body. Our bodies are God’s temple; meaning, His Spirit dwells inside of us. If we’re able to exercise and eat healthy food, let’s show our gratitude to God for having the ability to be active and choose the right foods for our bodies.
- Strengthen your mind. Sadly, mental illness is a real threat and often keeps people imprisoned. Most of us know someone struggling with some version of it and that can be hard to navigate. If we don’t struggle with this, let’s be grateful to God for the ability to help others through their difficult season.
- Grow spiritually. Reading the Bible, attending church, and gathering with fellow followers of Jesus is forbidden in certain parts of the world, yet many people risk their lives to do it anyway. If you have the freedom to pursue Jesus and share Him with those around you, be thankful for this amazing gift!
In this life, we’ll experience many health issues. Some seasons will be harder than others. No matter what you’re facing in the spiritual, mental, emotional, or physical health realm, start each day with Psalm 118:24 ESV, which says, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!”
When God created Adam, He gave him a job. Genesis 2:15 (NIV) tells us that God put Adam in the Garden of Eden to “work it and take care of it.” So, work has been around since the beginning of time!
All of us work at something. Before we can earn a monetary wage, we may work at school or do chores at our house. As we age, we land that first job and find a newfound self-respect as we earn our first paycheck. Into adulthood, we find a role or career that suits us, even if it’s providing full-time care for our families at home.
No matter what each of our “careers” look like, we have the opportunity to live a life of gratitude for how God has brought us to where we are. Here are some ways to be grateful for the work God has given us to do:
- Change your lens. Even if you’re unhappy in your current job, be thankful for the ability to be employed (or stay at home with your family), and take time to pray for those who are struggling with unemployment..
- You earn something. Regardless of your income level, you can thank God for His provision in your life. You can be grateful for what you have, instead of focusing on what you don’t.
- List what you love. Every job comes with things you love. It could be actual health or retirement benefits, or it could be a close friend you’ve made while working there. Focusing on the good will strengthen your heart toward gratefulness.
As we think about our work, we may have jobs that can bring more stress than we’d like. It’s also true that some of us may be without work at this time. Regardless, we can implement Colossians 3:17 NIV as a guide in our work life, which says, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” When we adjust our outlook and see the blessing in having a job or a role as a full-time caregiver, our enjoyment of our work life will increase drastically.
Whether you’re struggling to locate work or content where you are, always keep in mind that you’re working for God first. Do every task, assignment, and duty in His name, and thank Him regularly for the ability to do so.
Did you know that the Bible talks about money, possessions, and accumulating wealth in over 2,000 verses? In fact, 11 of the 39 parables Jesus taught are about that very subject. It’s probably safe to say that God knew that there would be a temptation and tendency to handle money poorly.
Sadly, we do love and adore money more than we should. We often wish we had more. And we think that a possession or amount of money will bring lasting gratitude, when in reality, it’s just a temporary fix that will soon need to be satisfied once again.
James 1:17 (NIV) tells us that our God is the giver of “every good and perfect gift,” and if we’ll apply this, our mindset will change when it comes to our finances. Let’s consider these tips when it comes to growing our gratitude in this area:
- Where you live. Whether our home is big or small, most of us have a place to live. Thank God for the gift of a place to live regardless of size or style.
- What you possess. Many of us have clothes that we don’t wear, and have the ability to stream music or read books on a device that allows us to get any information we can find. But we still want what we don’t have. Take some time to reset your mind and thank God for the provision to have what you own.
- At your fingertips. If you have the ability to get clean water at the turn of a faucet or buy food from a grocery store, then you are more blessed than most in the world. Thank God for the gift of these conveniences.
No matter how much money we make, it’s wise to see our income as a gift. Chances are, there are more people in the world who might think the lives we live are amazing. Keeping our lives free from the love of money will help us be more satisfied. We do this by using money, not loving it.
At the root of our desire to gain more money or possessions is a misunderstanding of what we truly need. Philippians 4:19 NIV says, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” God cares too much about us to give us everything we want, but loves us immensely and will meet our needs.