Graduating in Gratitude: There Are Levels To This

“Of all the attitudes we can acquire, surely the attitude of gratitude is the most important and by far the most life-changing.” – Zig Ziglar

More of What We Need

A story is told about a janitor who worked for a company for 20 years without receiving any appreciation whatsoever. She planned to quit the day after the company changed ownership. But, a few days after the change, the new owner handed personalized thank you notes to each employee. Upon receiving her note, the janitor broke down in tears. That little note meant so much to her; it encouraged her to continue working there. She became a recipient of something we all need to give and receive more of, gratitude. 

Small Expressions, Big Impressions

We never know how far the little things like saying “thank you” or an act of kindness can go in making an impression in other people’s lives. We live in a noisy and chaotic world. It’s easy to point out the myriad of problems around us or the plethora of things we can get angry over. Staying absorbed in what’s wrong can flush out our ability to be kind and grateful. Subscribing to an attitude of gratitude can radically make a difference in our lives and our world. Pastor Jack Graham confirms the power of gratitude by saying, “Gratitude sweetens our disposition, brightens our day, and encourages those around us.” Gratitude is often a small expression with a big impression. 

The shift that gave a lift

John Kralik’s life had reached a distressing low. With a failing business, a second divorce pending, and estranged from his children; things could get no worse for him. Add to that, he was overweight. In his intriguing book, 365 Thank Yous, John distills how shifting to an attitude of gratitude changed the trajectory of his life. He set a goal of sending one thank you note a day to people he had come across in his life. Over time he went from distressed to fulfilled. The shift brought about a lift. His story reminds us that what we focus on has a tremendous impact on the direction and quality of our lives.  

Your life flows where your focus goes

There is a high probability that on any given day negative and toxic thoughts will attempt to rent space in your head. Zig Ziglar emphatically advises us to  “raise the rent and kick them out.” How do we “raise the rent?” In the first level, we must fix our focus in the right place and on the right things. Focus is a function of thought and attention.  Philippians 4:8 in the Bible is forever etched in my mind regarding this. “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable,… think on such things.” I cannot think of a better mental diet for the person who wants to shift their focus and perspective away from the negative and toxic and dwell on the positive.

At the second level, we default to showing gratitude and kindness consistently. I defer to Ziglar again. who said, “Among the things you can give and still keep are, your word, a smile, and a grateful heart.” As I write, I am reminded of the numerous times I have experienced innumerable acts of random kindness. In particular, I recall a time when I was behind a lady who had a shopping cart filled with groceries. I had a handful of items. Glancing at my items, she smiled at me and beckoned me to go ahead of her. I registered my gratitude to her. It left an impression on me. Since then, I have become more aware of doing the same for others. We may not be able to end world hunger or poverty overnight, but we could all put a big dent in the poverty of gratitude and kindness that plagues our world by looking for ways to express both. Trust me, they are all around us. 

For the third level, ask yourself each night before you sleep, “What am I thankful for today?” Even one thing will do. You may have had a bad day. But it is possible to find treasure in the trash. Maybe someone treated you wrong or unfairly. Be thankful that they showed you how not to treat others. Be thankful that they made you stronger. Gratitude will change your mental posture before going to sleep and disentangle your mind from anxiety and worry, which are the main culprits of sleeplessness. In doing so, you will be supplied with the one thing that most people lack and yet seek. Contentment. Make the choice to focus on an attitude of gratitude. Pastor Jack Graham elaborates, “If you can’t think of something to be grateful for…, then think of some things you don’t have that you can be grateful for. For example, you can be grateful that you don’t have a fatal disease or unemployment staring you in the face.” Try some gratitude before you sleep tonight and every night afterward. It will change how you see everything! 

Final thought: Gratitude is one of the best ways to be emotionally healthy and wealthy. Your emotional stock will soar, and the dividends it gives will be invaluable. Make the shift and experience the lift!

Keep on keeping on

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