A guide to growing in gratitude

Gratitude is a thankful disposition of mind and heart

Photo: Tutye/iStock

If you are like me, it is easy to forget how “God provides” if you are too focused on others’ blessings. We live in a culture that incessantly prompts us to want more and more of what others have – and INSTANTLY!

Temptations are thrown in our path relentlessly and we are provided many opportunities to lose perspective on our blessings, to want more, and to forget that what the Lord has given us is more than adequate. As a Christian, living a life rooted in gratitude is essential to growing in our faith.

For example, when we plug into the internet we need to be well aware of ourselves and our own deadly pitfalls that lead us to personal sin. How is it that in just a few short minutes we can lose our grounding and perspective?

It is easy to fall quickly into being jealous of others’ blessings whenever it is something we ourselves desire. We may find ourselves coveting, desiring, wanting, or believing that just maybe we SHOULD have those blessings … possibly even have our neighbor’s life! Keep your mind in a grateful and thankful mode and avoid these near occasions of sin.

It is easy to fall quickly into being jealous of others’ blessings.

Now more than ever, thanks to social media, we can view every single blessing of another person’s life in a flash from vacations, talents, summer camps, family life, and even what others are cooking or eating out for dinner! Social media is a tool for sharing but also a dragon well worth taming so you are not tempted to become jealous of another’s blessings.

Keep a healthy perspective on your life and the life of others! Remember, life isn’t perfect on the other side of the screen and, instead, learn to cultivate gratitude in your heart so you can discover true Christian joy.


Prayer impacts our perspective!

If you are struggling with being grateful, take this matter to your prayer time! Ask the Lord for more graces to accept each moment of your life, as it is, and to overcome whatever is holding you back from being grateful.

Surround yourself with people who are grateful for life.

Gratitude is an important virtue and flows from humility. “If souls are humble, they will be moved to give thanks,” St. Teresa of Ávila said. We need to overcome the desire to be “Pinterest-perfect” or to believe that this type of perfection will bring us happiness!

Materialism fuels our ingratitude.

Our culture and greed often lead us into a vicious circle of materialism: The more we get, the more we want. Materialism leads to the “give me” mindset in which “stuff” fills the void of our hearts. It is important to focus on the non-material world where we share our thanks with words of affirmation, kind deeds, and prayers of thanksgiving.

This is especially true with raising children. In fact, we do not always need to “reward” them with things, but instead we can affirm them and their dignity as children of God. Consider praying before making a big purchase or a spontaneous one.

Decide whether this item will bring me or my family lasting joy: Will it end up in the trash can within a week? Instead, reward with experiences, be purposeful on how you express your love for others, and avoid the trap that materialism leads to happiness.

A major obstacle to being grateful or growing in this virtue is refusing to forgive.

When we refuse to forgive it leads us to grow in hard-heartedness. Consider forgiving those who have hurt you or robbed you of your joy. Seek to mend that relationship. When we seek out to strengthen our relationships with others, we grow closer to Christ. In the meantime, we grow in gratitude.

Worry and anxiety can also lead us away from being grateful.

There is a direct link between screen time and anxiety, especially with our teens. St. Paul says:

Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

If we are anxious and stressed out, let us take a breather and unplug. Detach and spend some time in nature or go to Eucharistic Adoration for some restful quiet before Jesus.

Let us close with these powerful words by St. John Paul II:

Remember the past with gratitude … live the present with enthusiasm and … look forward to the future with confidence. (Novo Millennio Ineunte, At the Beginning of the New Millennium, 1)

When we look to the past with gratitude it not only creates beautiful memories but helps us navigate our life.

What’s so bad about wanting to be rich?


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