How to Grow A Grateful Heart
As a part of our Fighter series we have been talking about taking ground in our minds through cultivating gratitude. So what does that look like practically? Here are several practices that have helped me grow a more grateful heart:
1. Sow Daily Gratitude For The Grace of God
Use a journal and each morning fill one page with things you are thankful for. It is amazing what will come out of you as you slow down and reflect. This time of reflection is like savoring a meal vs. just racing forward through scarfing down food.
If you use a digital journal like Evernote, set a timer for yourself and write down things you are thankful for until the timer goes off.
Work to let the things not just stay at a surface level but engage your heart in the exercise.
In the midst of being thankful, seek to center your gratitude on God's grace to you in Jesus- He is our deepest and most lasting reason to be grateful and it is to him that our gratitude is directed.
2. Plant Thankful Words
I was really struck when I heard both Frank Blake the former CEO of Home Depot and President George W. Bush both took one hour a week to write personal handwritten notes of encouragement and thankfulness to people they knew.
What if you and I did the same? How might this soften our hearts in our relationships with one another?
Maybe we can't start with an hour, but what if once a week you wrote a "I am thankful for you" note to your spouse/friend/boss etc.
My handwriting is bad, so I like to do this by sending voice memo's to people with things I am thankful for about them/encouragements etc.
3. Weed by Setting a Reminder
Sometimes our hearts need to be weeded throughout the day from grumbling and complaining. One way to do this is to set a reminder on your watch or phone that goes off at a certain interval throughout the day (like minute :57 of the hour) and then spend a few minutes proactively giving thanks to God.
William Butler Yeats said, "Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking." Don't wait until you feel thankful to show gratitude, but cultivate the feeling of thankfulness by actively choosing gratitude.
4. Sow by Shaping Grateful Kids
One way that we have pursued this as a family is by working with our kids to identify what are their favorite things about a person (let's say sibling for example) or an event (let's say school). As they list off their favorite things, once they have ten or so, then have them turn those things into thankful statements that can be shared with the Lord, with the person they were talking about or in reference to the event.
By starting with "favorite" it helps the kids engage their hearts and not just go through the motions.
5. Nurture By Adjusting Your Starting Point In Prayer
When you pray take time to start with thankfulness, and proactively choose to thank God for the way he is already at work in a situation.
This simple practice will profoundly transform your relationship with Jesus.
6. Water With Regular Worship
Seek to regularly gather with other believers to worship together. As you worship seek to take some time to express intentional thankfulness to the Lord.
Worship waters our hearts with focused gratitude to Jesus
7. Fertilize With Inspiration From Church History
Throughout church history, God has done remarkable things with thankful people. One of my favorite stories about gratitude is from the life of Corrie & Betsie Ten Boom- you can read it here or watch it with your kids here.