It's difficult at times to find things to be thankful for, or to feel gratefulness rather than dissatisfaction. But Gratitude can not only positively affect our lives (and health) but also deepen our relationship with God and the people around us.
Gratitude, as the philosopher Cicero said is “...the parent of all the [other virtues]” but certainly one of the most difficult to cultivate.
It’s difficult at times to find things to be thankful for or to feel gratefulness rather than dissatisfaction. But Gratitude can not only positively affect our lives (and health) but also deepen our relationship with God and the people around us.
How can we foster the virtue of gratitude in our own lives? Give these suggestions a try!
Gratitude flows from humility. “If souls are humble, they will be moved to give thanks,” St. Teresa of Ávila said.
Humility is knowing who we are before God. It helps us clearly see our faults as well as our strengths, and in doing so, it helps us recognize our need for God and His presence in our life, as well as all the gifts and graces He has poured out on us.
Change your language
Do you find yourself complaining a lot? Changing the way you talk about your life, especially the challenges, can help the seeds of gratitude grow in your heart.
Dan Baker writes in What Happy People Know: “Just as changing your life can change your language, changing your language can change your life. It can alter your perceptions and thought processes.”
By simply changing the way you speak, you can see the world through a more grateful lens.
Keep a Gratitude Journal
Taking a little time every day to write down what you are thankful for is a great practice for cultivating this virtue. It can help you begin to more easily approach your life with a spirit of thankfulness, helping you see everything as a gift.
This small exercise in gratitude also offers some amazing health benefits including better sleep, less stress, and may possibly even lower your risk of heart disease and lessen symptoms of depression.1
While social media can be a fabulous tool for connecting with friends and family, the almost unlimited access we have to the [curated] lives of other people can also sow seeds of comparison and discontentment.
If you find yourself scrolling endlessly on your phone and social apps (and find yourself unsatisfied with your own life after doing so), it might be time for a break. Take a few days to unplug from the online world and reconnect to loved ones IRL (in real life).
Write a Thank You Note
Thank someone who has blessed your life in some way, big or small. Write a thank-you note to God, your spouse, your parents, or your best friend. Taking just a few minutes to intentionally show gratitude, either in writing or in person, can not only help you avoid taking the people in your life for granted but might even brighten someone’s day.
“You say grace before meals...But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing, and grace before I dip the pen in the ink,” Catholic writer G.K. Chesterton once said.
Incorporating prayers of thanksgiving, or even a simple “Glory Be” into your activities (including your workout!) is a great way to thank God for the gift of your life, but also can help you approach your daily tasks with a heart of gratitude.
In each of our Pietra Fitness classes, we even take time to show gratitude toward God through prayers of thanksgiving.
Go to Mass
Did you know that the word “Eucharist” means “Thanksgiving?” Jesus gave us His whole self in the gift of the Eucharist and the greatest act of gratitude we can do is to receive Him with a loving heart.
Attending Mass regularly gives you a multitude of graces to help you grow in this great virtue of gratitude.