Whenever I am going through changes that can bring on stress, taking me away from noticing the everyday things, I dust off my gratitude journal. The power of gratitude is proven to decrease anxiety and improve mood, and, I believe, help with living out our God-given purpose.
When I read my past entries in my gratitude journal, I am reminded how my practice of gratitude helps me decrease stress, concerns, and worries over changes.
Fall is around the corner, and how long before the trails around my home are covered in dry yellow leaves?
I take a walk mid-morning, the sun rising later these days and the air cool. I wear rain boots in the long, dewy grasses that edge the farmer’s wheat field. The farmers have desiccated, and soon will harvest, I am told.
I’m new to the farming processes, being a gal from the city most of my life. This day I am simply a mid-life women taking a walk in this place I have called home since May, when I married for the second time.
Between a wedding, job decisions, and learning how to navigate a new home and new family dynamic, it’s been a whirlwind.
My brain is still catching up with all the changes that I see.
But here? There’s nothing to do but see, listen, and take one step at a time. One of the dogs runs into the trees, and I hear a frantic fluttering – a prairie chicken reared up from it’s resting place.
I’m reminded that all things are not in my control.
I start to worry about the “what if’s” that rear up in my mind even among the wonderful happenings.
I feel the brush of a fallen leaf on my cheek, sudden and soft that brings me back to the moment. On my next step, I run my bare hand across the wheat heads produced by a farmer’s working hands.
I bring myself back to the moment, grateful for having legs to walk, hands warmed by the sun, and lungs that breathe in fresh, country air.
Three Ways to See The Power of Gratitude
“See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for autumn and spring rains.” James 5: 6b
The ripened wheat that caresses my hand is a reward for the farmers spring and summer labour.
Worries and anxiety do not make the crop grow faster. Instead, work completed in the spring and sufficient rains (that is out of our control) creates a good harvest in autumn. Our work of practicing gratitude also grows a good harvest.
The power of gratitude sows and reaps benefits in the present and for our future selves. Practicing gratitude is the key for increased well-being.
1. The power of gratitude in difficult situations
When times are tough, it not easy to be grateful!
One way to practice gratitude when struggling is to focus on an area of concern, and write three positives about the situation.
Did the nurse treat you well during your exam? Did you receive a smile from the post office manager in your new location? Did your teenager granddaughter ask you to take her shopping?
Focusing on one area of your life for an extended period ( a month, for example) can show you the power of gratitude by developing a peaceful mindset about the situation and a fulfilling outcome (due to seeing it differently).
2. The power of gratitude when we notice what feels good
Make a daily intention to practice gratitude by noticing what feels good to you through your senses.
How did smelling the cinnamon on your morning oatmeal make you feel? What about your friend’s hug, a neighbours tree in the sunlight, and a child’s laughter in the grocery store?
Write a quick note using an app on your phone or on a note pad when you experience gratitude from what felt good during your day.
3. The Power of Gratitude from writing a thank you note
Helping others, taking the focus off ourselves, is a way to express the power of gratitude causing a positive outcome for more than just one!
Is there someone that has brightened up your life? Send a text or write a note explaining why you appreciate her/him.
“You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” 2 Corinthians 9:11
I turn myself walking a little slower than when I started.
I realize, God-willing, that I will walk these trails tomorrow, and then again and again, settling into a new rhythm in this new place until it no longer new.
Yet, the possibilities of what I see, what I hear, what I smell— what I can be grateful for — are endless.
“I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.” Anne Shirley, author Lucy Maud Montgomery
Do you need a reminder to help you stay grateful this season?
I created a banner that helps me.
Download, print on white or coloured paper, cut out the letters and leaves, and string to hang. Or you might want to print on sticker paper; or glue on toothpicks to make a cake topper! It’s also an easy activity to do with young children, too.
Do you need a reminder to help you stay grateful this season? I created a banner that helps me. Download, print on white or coloured paper, cut out the letters and leaves, and string to hang. Or you might want to print on sticker paper; or glue on toothpicks to make a cake topper! It’s also an easy activity to do with young children, too.