Monday, October 22, 2012

How to Cultivate Gratitude

Part of A.J. Jacob's talk during Chicago Ideas Week's "Storytellers: The Power of Perspective" panel has resonated with me over the past two weeks.  While he was doing research and writing his book, "The Year of Living Biblically," he tried to live out the idea of giving thanks at all times.

It wasn't always easy, but over time, he cultivated an attitude of gratitude.  He noticed that hundreds of things go right every day, but we usually focus on the three to four things that go wrong.

What a powerful reminder.  Too often, I take the good things for granted.  But what if we gave thanks for all those small, everyday blessings?  What if we gave thanks constantly?  It would be challenging to do all the time, but the actual act of giving thanks is quite simple. 

In the process of meditating on those words--"thank you"--throughout the day, I would not only cultivate gratitude, but I believe I'd also take on a more positive mindset.  I would look for the good and let go of the bad more easily.  I would recognize how blessed I am.

While visiting Kansas, my parents and I talked about Catholicism and our faith.  While so many of us want to "get something out of Mass," and so many of us pray for help or turn to God only in the tough times, we may gain more by simply giving thanks.

Offering gratitude to God, even when life is hard and we don't have answers and we don't understand why or how or when, brings peace and grace and a sense of trust.  The gifts and blessings we have are evidence of His love.

Especially in these weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, I am making a commitment to cultivating gratitude, to recognizing all the good in life and giving thanks every day.

What are you grateful for?  How do you cultivate gratitude?

I'm thankful for the food we eat...


  1. Have you read 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp? It's all about cultivating an attitude of thanksgiving.

  2. BEAUTIFUL! Hard to reflect on what's good, and easy to reflect on what's not, yes? Good reminder, Melissa. Thank you.

  3. I haven't read 1000 Gifts, Katie... but thank you for the suggestion. I'll have to look it up!

    Thanks, Sarah, for your kind words!

  4. love this post and love the idea of cultivating gratitude as a part of daily life. we say thanks before dinner at night and include other things we're thankful for, but i think it's important to do it spontaneously too, not just out of habit.

  5. Great point, Ashley - it's good to give thanks both as a habit and spontaneously.

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