What the Grateful Do Differently
Someone pulled out in front of me in traffic the other day, and
I thought, “What a jerk!” That one instant, the negative
reaction set me on a collision course of similar reactions. The
long line at the bank had me wondering why the little old lady
in the front couldn’t just go through the drive-thru. The hiccup
on a webinar made me curse technology. When I got
home, the kids were loud and rambunctious, and I wondered
why we had so many kids (by the way, I only have three).
Instead of being proactive about my intentions and emotions
for the day, I reacted to the world around me and allowed it to
direct my thoughts. In short, I was a poor product of my
The fact is, I let this happen because I forgot to employ one
simple tool—gratitude. This mental tool allows us to see a
world full of blessings, despite setbacks and inconveniences.
It’s the thing that reminds us that there is always plenty of good
stuff out there.
My ruined day got me thinking. Why did I slip down that rabbit
hole of ungratefulness when I could have done what I normally
do—thank God for the blessings I have? What can I do in the
future to make sure that doesn’t happen again? Essentially,
what do grateful people do differently, and how can I take a
lesson from their playbook? Grateful people:
- Forgive Others and Themselves: How can we
accept God’s forgiveness when we won’t forgive? How
can we accept God’s infinite Grace and Love, when we
can’t possibly pass it on to others? Gratitude and
forgiveness are inextricably tied together. When you
forgive, you can be grateful for others, and when you
are grateful for others, you can forgive them.
- Don’t Feel Like They Are Owed: What is the
opposite of gratitude? Entitlement. When you feel like
you’re owed, you can’t see around your rights to your
blessings. We are not entitled or owed anything; rather,
we owe God for our lives and our blessings.
- Are Proactive, Not Reactive: Grateful people are
happy. Every moment is an opportunity, and while we
can’t be grateful for everything, we can be grateful in
every given moment for something.
- Have Hope: Gratitude builds hope. Have you noticed
that people who are grateful for God’s gifts in their
lives are often the most hopeful about their future?
They are not focused on their circumstances, rather on
the possibilities of each moment.
- Love to Learn: It makes no sense to condemn or
ignore an important life lesson. When you’re grateful,
you take the lesson out of the most challenging
Being grateful doesn’t eliminate challenges, or worse, tragedies
from happening, but it can certainly change how you react to
them. I allowed one innocent traffic infringement stick to me
for the rest of the day. Had I been grateful for the sun
streaming in my window, my beautiful wife sitting next to me
drinking her coffee, the vibrant reds and yellows of the autumn
leaves, and the sermon on the radio, I would have forgiven the
minor transgression and moved on with the rest of my day.
If you struggle with gratitude, I encourage you to make the
purposeful switch in your thought and action programming.
Proverbs 4:23 says: “Above all else, guard your heart, for
everything you do flows from it.”
ABOVE ALL ELSE, GUARD YOUR HEART, FOR EVERYTHING
YOU DO FLOWS FROM IT.