Let’s go back to the sermon you heard on gratitude. Instead of trying really hard to be grateful, train yourself to be grateful. Get a simple, blank, 100-page notebook. Commit to writing down three things you are grateful for every night before you go to bed. Do this for 100 days. By this time, you will have formed a habit. You will not be able to keep from thinking of three things you are grateful for before you go to bed. In fact you will think of things you are grateful for all the time. Gratitude will become a habit. It will become your automatic thought-language. Gratitude will become easy.
Many people have a thought language that some have called ANTs: Automatic Negative Thoughts. “I am just so clumsy. This always happens to me. Just my luck.” Squash the ANTs with gratitude. Research shows that all of life will be better when you squash the ANTs with gratitude:
Spend just a few minutes each day focusing on the good things that happened, the incidents and situations that you’d put in the plus column if you were noting plusses and minuses. You’ll be healthier. You’ll sleep better and exercise more. You’ll feel more optimistic. Take just a moment to note the day’s blessings and you’ll sense that you have more energy. You will feel more alert and active. Do this for a period of time, and you’ll realize you are making progress toward your goals in life. You may even discover you’re less of a mess, more organized, less possessive-the clutter that used to collect around you seems to disappear.
I have experienced this. My approach is this. I often think of twenty things I am grateful for before I go to bed at night. (Writing would be better. I compensate for this by thinking of twenty things instead of three.) I think of them in four categories:
- Family members I am grateful for. Wife, kids, grandkids, parents…
- Other people I am grateful for. Friends. Church people. The mail man.
- Physical things I am grateful for. Air conditioning. Indoor plumbing. The Internet.
- Spiritual things I am grateful for. The Bible. The forgiveness of sins. Spiritual gifts. The hope of eternal life.
I have done this for several years. I don’t do it every night, but I have done it enough times that it is a habit. It has shaped my thinking. The first thoughts that come through my mind in the morning are thoughts of gratitude. I put my feet on a little green rug we have in front of the sink. I think about how warm and snugly that rug feels on my feet. Thank God for a little green rug.
Thank God for air-conditioning. Thank God for godly parents. Thank God for grand-kids. Thank God for apples. I love apples. Thank God for my job writing Bible Study Lessons. Thank God. Thank God. Thank God. Gratitude is easy. I have trained myself to be grateful.
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