by Lisa Plorin
Finding things to be grateful for and writing them down became a habit that I started almost four years ago. I’d always heard of the importance of this practice but like many grand ideas that would pop into my mind, this was always put on the backburner.
On October 1, 2018, I opened a beautiful blank journal that I had received as a birthday gift five months prior. I had purchased some colorful gel pens to make my journal vibrant, and I used them to write the numbers 1 – 10 down the left-hand side of the first page. My goal was to find 10 things each day to be grateful for. I’ll admit, this was a tough task. It was easy to record things such as “I’m grateful for my family…”, “I’m grateful for my home…”, “I’m grateful for my pantry that is full of food….”, etc.
After a few weeks my gratitude journal turned in to more of a chore than something meaningful and purposeful. Rather than stop, I narrowed my number of items from 10 to five. I was quite proud of the fact that I had not missed a day in three weeks, and once I reset my mind – and the number of gratitude items I would write down – I was invigorated to keep going. Gratitude and giving thanks for even the smallest of gifts became a new way of life for me, and I was excited to turn the page to January 1, 2019. I’ve been keeping my gratitude journal going ever since.
Even in our worst days, we can find something to be grateful for. Studies from Harvard Health Publishing have shown that being grateful can help people feel more positive, relish good experiences, improve their health, and build strong relationships with others.
Your life is already filled with friends and family who love and care about you. Forget about the material things you don’t have and instead appreciate every single relationship you have and each positive interaction you encounter each day. It doesn’t matter how big or small these things are. I will admit that some days are tough, and my journal entry might contain words such as “God’s Grace, Mercy, and Love”. Sometimes my entries are quirky. Just this last week I wrote that I was grateful for the smell of the lagoon outside of our small town – this meant it was thawing and spring was almost here.
The fact of the matter is being grateful every single day is important. There are six stories in the Bible that come to mind that show that even in the direst of times, there is always a reason to be grateful.
- Like Daniel, may we offer gratitude to God no matter what we face. (Daniel 6:1-28)
- Like Jonah, may we offer gratitude to God for hard consequences that bring good repentance. (Jonah 1-4)
- Like Hannah, may we offer gratitude to God for who God is over what God gives. (1 Samuel 1-2)
- Like Paul, may we offer gratitude to God, not after, but in the midst of the storm. (Acts 27)
- Like Jesus, may we offer gratitude to God before God supplies our need. (Matthew 14:13-21)
- Like Christ, may we offer gratitude to God even when following God’s will means suffering. (Matthew 26: 17-29)
So, how can you start a life with an attitude of gratitude? Start small, perhaps writing down three things each day that you are grateful for. If you don’t always have paper and pen handy, push the voice recorder on your phone and speak into it.
Gratefulness is a great discipline, and it will enhance your life. It’s like medicine for the heart and soul. Making this practice a daily habit will bring more happiness and contentment into your life. Your health and well-being will likely improve. Even if you’re going through hardship, you can find things to be grateful for, and practicing this will transform your life.
Lisa Plorin, of Upham, N.Dak., served on the churchwide board from 2014 – 2021 and was churchwide president from 2017-2021.