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gratitudeHappiness and gratitude are inseparably linked.

While we may not be able to choose to just be happy, especially when times are hard, we can always choose to be grateful.  We can be grateful in our trials, even if we are not at a point of being grateful for our trials.  And even in the darkest of days, there can always be something that we can find to be grateful for.

Gratitude is a choice. There are things you can choose to do that will bring more gratitude and happiness into your life. Get ready to get active as we go through the list.  Here are the 5 things we can do daily to feel more gratitude in our lives.  Observe, Serve, Express, Record & Pray

Observe

Look around you.  Look for things that make you smile.  Is there a piece of art hanging in your home that you love? Are there pictures of family members? Is there a something decorating your home, because it was a gift from someone who was thinking of you?  What about outside your window?  Do you have snow right now? Or is it a beautiful sunny day?  Are there trees or flowers or clouds?  Maybe there is someone walking their dog?  All of these things bring beauty and variety to our lives. Think a little deeper.  Do any of these things have more meaning to them than just beauty?

Just outside my window is a rather large and sturdy snow fort that my son helped to make last week with a bunch of neighbor kids.  I look at it and I’m so grateful that he got to have that experience, that I got to see him out there for hours having fun, and that he has made good friends to be creative with.  I’m also grateful for the skills that he learned in creating something like this.

Look around and feel the gratitude for all the small blessings put together that can remind you of loved ones, and that can help you know that people care.

gratitude for simple things

Serve

Be prepared to give service to someone else, every day, showing that you have been blessed enough to be able to help others.  It doesn’t have to be big.

  • Returning the grocery cart so that it won’t ding someone’s car.
  • Hold the door for someone.
  • Leave a little note of cheer for a loved one, or on the car window of a stranger.
  • Carry some spare cash in your car or in a pocket to share with someone in need.
  • Smile and say hello to people who you see.

By preparing to give to others, it naturally helps you to see the gifts that you have in your own lives. If you can give money to someone in need, it means that you are blessed to have your needs taken care of.  If you can help someone with physical labor, you are blessed with a body that can work and is strong.  Spreading cheer through a smile or a little note shows that you are grateful for happiness in this moment and you are willing to share it.   Think of what you can do to share today.

Express

Express your gratitude to the people in your life. There are many ways to show your gratitude to others.

  • Say “thank you” in person and right away when you notice someone doing something kind. It only takes a second, and it can be an instant mood enhancer.
  • Compliment someone when you notice something you enjoy about them… whether it is their appearance, their cheerfulness, or anything else that you admire. I remember one time when my kids were little, we took them to a restaurant, which can be a little challenging and sometimes embarrassing. On this occasion a fellow diner, came to our table to complimented us on how well behaved our kids were.  I can’t tell you how meaningful it was to hear that, and obviously I’ve remembered it these many years later.
  • Write a thank you note and mail it to someone who has touched your life. I have a small collection of the thank you notes I have received over the years.  They are so precious to me. Sending a card in the mail is so rare now, but it is something so meaningful when it is received. Some of the most meaningful cards are the ones that were sent as an appreciation for small things.  A very busy woman at my church sends out thank you notes regularly, to show gratitude for small acts of kindness, or comments made during lessons, or something she got out of a talk that was given. It was so meaningful when my son got a thank you card from her, when he gave a talk in church.
  • Give a hug when it looks needed or is appropriate. It may not always be appropriate, but a friend came up to me yesterday and hugged me and said “I just want to share the love, physically.” It was a fleeting moment, but it was a meaningful connection between friends.

Record

Record your blessings.  Whether you use a journal, a notebook, or a to-do app on your phone, there is somewhere that you can begin recording the many blessings that come into your life.  I have a special journal that I keep by my bed so that I’ll remember to use it.  I try to write down each day 3 things that I did well, 3 things that I’m grateful for, and 3 things that I want to do better at.  Sometimes there is overlap, but it’s surprising how every day there can be some new thing to be grateful for.  This was a new project for me, because writing long journal entries, as much as I love them sometimes, were often too hard to remember to get around to regularly.  By making gratitude a part of my bedtime routine, it helps me to remember to look for those things to be grateful for.  Think of some daily habit that you engage in, where you could add recording of gratitude too. If you exercise daily or meditate or read or plan, see if you can put gratitude into part of the routine, and you will also be more likely to feel gratitude in your life.

Pray

Use your recorded gratitude in prayer. Show the Lord that you recognize the tender mercies that He sends down to you to help you in your life.

I heard a story a few weeks ago of a young woman who had a very difficult life.  Her father was killed while she was very young, and her family struggled to stay afloat financially.  But she always looked for the tender mercies of the Lord in her life.  For her it was especially meaningful whenever she saw a butterfly. She loved butterflies and when she would see one, whether in a painting, on someone’s clothes or a real live butterfly, it reminded her that the Lord is watching out for her.

The Lord does send tender mercies upon us all the time.  All too often we don’t notice them, and that can cause us to forget how merciful our Heavenly Father truly is. Take the time to thank Him in prayer every day for all the blessings and gifts that He gives to us on a regular basis.

Making gratitude a part of our lives may not be easy, or come naturally at first, but as we try to incorporate it into our lives, it will bring greater blessings of happiness and friendship.

Decide to start today and  remember these 5 things, Observe, Serve, Express, Record & Pray and you are on your way to living a fuller more blessed life.

aa laura

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