[blockquote source=”Ephesians 5:20 (NLT)“]And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.[/blockquote]
My business is prospering. My wife is happy. My kids are beautiful and well behaved. It’s easy to be grateful.
But what if the business is slowing down. Wife is upset. Children are getting out of hand.
Do we still maintain the same grateful attitude or do we start cursing and swearing? Kick up a big fuss? Slam the door? Fight with coworkers?
It’s easy to maintain one’s integrity when times are good. But when push comes to shove, that’s when the real test begins.
Mark Sanborn wrote in his book, Up, Down, or Sideways, on how we can put gratitude into action. He suggested three simple action steps:
- Start with a mind-set of gratitude
- Schedule gratitude
- Practice giving as you can
Mind-set of gratitude. People with this mind-set are those who are grateful for what they already have, rather than what they do not have. They are always willing to give, rather than to take. They are always prepared to help, rather than waiting to receive it. They are proactive. A good way to start is by making a list of all the things that you are grateful for. As an example, my list starts with areas at the personal level, then spiralling out towards the people level and then the professional level:
- Spiritual: I am grateful to God for loving me
- Physical: I am grateful for this body that is getting healthier everyday
- Emotional: I am grateful for the empowering emotions that I’ve experienced today
- Mind: I am grateful for my mind that is creative and innovative
- Economics: I am grateful for the money that I have
- Time: I am grateful for the way that I choose to use my time effectively
- Spouse: I am grateful for my wife, Rhea, who is supportive, loving, understanding, and caring
- Children: I am grateful for my children, Moses and Esther, who are healthy, active, and loving
- Work: I am grateful for the work that I get to do with the Schools in helping them become more effective
- Colleagues: I am grateful for the people that I work with who are supportive, understanding, and encouraging
Schedule gratitude. You see, if it stays at the level of mindset, then when we get busy, we will likely forget about it. Expressing gratitude is one of those quadrant two activities (important but not urgent) that we need to act on it. Hence, “schedule it in your calendar until it becomes second nature”, as suggested by Mark. As an example, I schedule expressing my gratitude into my morning ritual. This is where I will say it out loud either when I am walking, running, or when I am alone in the room. I am not there yet, but this is what my ideal schedule of gratitude would look like:
- Morning ritual: to express gratitude for the different areas of my life first thing in the morning
- Afternoon ritual: typically after lunch, to express gratitude for one thing that I have experienced thus far – this could be in the form of a Facebook post
- Evening ritual: typically during my daily review, where one of the item is to express gratitude by penning it in my journal
Practice giving. This is the real test, where the rubber meets the road. There are many forms of giving. It can be in terms of time, effort, money, and know-how. But the simplest of all, where many of us forget is to give a smile. There are huge amount of research done on the science of smile. And really, it does not cost you anything but in fact, it will even bring about great benefits to your health. Again, this is where I am not there yet, but this is what my ideal act of giving would look like:
- Tithe: give with a cheerful heart to my home church
- Know-how: give away valuable information and practical tips (such as this blog) to help people learn, live, and lead an engaged life
- Time: give and honour family time – we strive for a “no gadget during dinner” rule at home
I’d be most happy to hear and learn from you. What are your ways to express gratitude?
Father we thank You for everything. During good times, during not so good times, and during times when nothing seems to be moving. God we know You only want the best for all of us. And we thank You for that too. In Jesus name, Amen.