3 Strategies For Being Grateful In All Circumstances

Sometimes generating a grateful spirit seems like the right thing to do…but feels difficult to actually conjure.

Maybe we are just in a funk or hooked into wishing things were different in our lives. And our attempts at feeling genuinely grateful for the good in our lives falls short.

Here are 3 specific ways that help me shift from blah (or even disappointed or frustrated) into that open, spacious, abundant heart space that happens when gratitude begins to naturally flow through again.

1. Gratitude for the good already in your life

“What if you woke up today with only the things that you thanked God for yesterday?”

What if you knew you will wake up tomorrow and the only things left in your life are the things you give thanks for today?

Gratitude for the good we have in our lives immediately brings us into the present moment.

It is a “presence cultivator” and the most brilliant one I can think of to help you build your “presence” muscles as you go through your day.  But it does more than that.

Focusing on the good right now will bring more good in…so it straddles both your present and your future in the very best of ways.  You reap the benefits of all the happiness and fulfillment available to you right now while moving yourself and your life into the growth and goodness of your future.

2. Gratitude for the difficult or lack in your life

It can be hard to generate genuine gratitude {Try saying that out loud! I can hardly say it in my head :)} …for things that feel difficult about our lives.

It can also feel hard to generate gratitude when we feel worn out and lacking.

When we feel inadequate and exhausted.

A while back, a friend sent me a link to a sermon from Pearl Church in Oregon. The pastor was remarking on the gospel of Luke, with the loaves of bread and fish that were to feed the multitudes.

The pastor asked us to consider why Jesus asked the disciples, “What do you have?” and then used the little they had to do miraculous things, instead of just doing it all himself.

He went on to say (I’m paraphrasing here):

“When you feel you have no time, take the little time you have, lift it to the God, ask Him to break it, to bless it, and see what He might do with it…

When you feel you have no heart left to give…take the little heart you have, offer it to the Lord to break it, bless it and see what He might do with it…

When you feel you have no money, no talent, no energy, no love or care left…take the little you can muster, offer it to the Lord ask him to break it, to bless it and then see what He might accomplish through it.”

So how do we authentically generate gratitude for the things that feel hard and difficult, for the parts of us that feel lacking?

We lift them up.  We ask those areas to be blessed.  We believe that there is nothing in our life right now that can not be used for our greatest good.  And we give thanks for those things as well.

3. Gratitude for the things you want to come into your life

Finally, how do we give thanks for the things not yet arrived?

Is it assumptive- or worse foolish– to want something that you might not get… to open yourself up to feeling disappointed if it doesn’t come through?

Here’s my take.

It comes back to the overly-attached concept.  I work to hold my desires and dreams with open hands.  I know I can’t out-dream God.  I follow the things that light me up, that make me happy, that I dream about and trust this or something better is on it’s way.

I’ve changed my dreams many times along the way- some things just lost their shine for me.

But the fastest way to figure out what a worthy goal is in your life is to take action. 

You can’t direct a still ship.

You have to be moving and dreaming and figuring out your true desires if you are going to refine them.

There has been times in my life I thought I wanted something.

I asked, I gave thanks and I was open to receiving.

I moved forward toward the goal but then in the process something bigger and better and more perfect arrived.

So go nuts- give thanks for all the good you can imagine and then go through your days with open hands ready and expectant to receive that or better!

Which of these 3 critical areas of gratitude do you have the hardest time with? Which is easiest for you?