Last time we dreamed about abounding to an abundant life. Well, it occurred to me that if an abundant life is also a fulfilled life, then life is full of something…but what?
A full life includes a grateful heart and nothing is more satiating than thankfulness. That is why I have decided that I want an abundant life full of gratitude. I want to be a person who is known for being grateful; who is bursting with generous portions of “Thank you’s” to anyone and everyone for any reason. I want phrases like, “What would I do without you?” and “I am so thankful for your support!” and “I will never forget what you have done” to flow from my mouth every day.
Gratefulness can be a powerful gesture.
I work for a non-profit. Well, you know that. Pregnancy Choices is a non-profit which means my paycheck is paid by the generous financial contributions of people in my community. I am always amazed when donors thank me for what I do. Shouldn’t I be the one thanking them for funding my work and providing my paycheck? After all, I’d be unemployed if it weren’t for their generosity. And yet, they thank me. Me! They thank me! How full must their heart be to thank the person they are paying for the work they are paying them to do? But I tell you what, when they say, “Thank you” to me, my heart gets a warm-fuzzy feeling and a smile brims on my face. It feels good to be thanked. It’s a bit humbling, to be quite honest.
But, can I confess something? I personally am more apt to be grateful when life is kind; when life is going as planned and trials are a thing of the past. When life is good, I can identify my blessings effortlessly for they seem so obvious: good health, a loving husband, a degree framed on my wall, my family and friends who call to say hello, my new infinity scarf I got on sale, a warm PSL from Starbucks on my way to work, the latest episodes of Parks and Recreation on Netflix. When life is good, it feels like my blessings are endless.
But what about when life is hard?
Sometimes our hardships cover up our gratitude. When I have a bad day, sometimes it feels like I am void of blessings and therefore have nothing to be grateful for. Like a mountain in front of the sun, the sun is covered and all we see is the looming mountain, but the sun is still there. We just can’t see it. Same goes for our blessings. When life presents challenges, our blessings are still there, but sometimes we just can’t see them because life’s demands loom over us.
Can gratitude transcend hardship? I think so. Even in the most difficult or the most mundane of circumstances there are reasons to be thankful. Recently a friend posted this meme to her Facebook Page:
Life is not perfect, but it good. This small prayer shows us that even when life is not all that we hoped for, there are reasons to give thanks. Sometimes gratitude is the very thing we need to overcome life’s challenges.
In fact, sociologists have been researching the power of gratitude and have discovered what they are calling the Gratitude Effect. Essentially, what researchers have discovered is that gratitude improves our sense of self-worth, our productivity, even our energy levels. Here is what researcher, Francesca Gino has to say:
[There] are beautiful studies that show that counting one’s blessing can be quite powerful from a psychological perspective, from a physical perspective, and also from an interpersonal perspective. What I mean by that is that people experience all sorts of positive emotions. They’re more attentive, alert, energetic, feel, again, happy about life in general.*
So, what are we waiting for? Let’s fill our hearts with thanksgiving and allow the Gratitude Effect to transform us and those around us. Let’s be generous with words of affirmation. Remember, a grateful heart is a full heart.
So, I have to ask, what are you grateful for right now? How can you share your gratitude today?
Comment below and let’s fill our hearts with gratitude! Or download our list of Ways to Show Gratitude.
Learn more about the Gratitude Effect by checking out this interview with Francesca: https://hbr.org/2013/11/the-big-benefits-of-a-little-thanks
About Janie Crane
Janie currently serves at Pregnancy Choices in Mount Vernon, Washington as the Pregnancy Resources Program Director where she oversees pregnancy testing and crisis pregnancy coaching. She is a certified Crisis Pregnancy Coach through the American Association of Christian Counselors and CareNet. She has also coordinated mentor programs for teen moms through Young Life. In true Pacific Northwest fashion, she enjoys running, hiking, mountain biking and skiing with her husband and husky. She is also a MAT student at Fuller Northwest emphasizing in Christian ethics.