I think it’s great that our country sets aside a day to give thanks, and it’s wonderful to celebrate the blessings of life with those around us. But gratitude is meant to be a year-round attitude, and it creates a rich environment for us to live in, both within our hearts and in our relationships.
I’ve written in the past about the benefits of a thankful heart, but I was thinking this week: How do you know if you really have one?
I came up with seven signs I’ve seen in the lives of those who are truly thankful. If you live with gratitude:
1. You aren’t always trying to prove yourself. You’re no longer trying to establish your identity by what you do or who you relate to. You know who you are, you’re grateful for who you are, and you’re content to just be who you are whether others appreciate you or not.
2. You aren’t petty. If your heart is full of gratitude, you feel no need to make trivial comments that dishonor other people, you don’t perceive personal slights where there aren’t any, and you don’t overreact even to real offenses.
3. You are generous. You are magnanimous with your words, you have room in your wallet and your schedule for other people’s needs, and you don’t live with a self-seeking agenda. Why? Because you know if you have been given much, you will be given more, and you don’t have to hoard resources or feed your ego.
4. You don’t begin sentences or thoughts with, “If only …” Everyone has regrets about the past and hopes for the future, but thankful hearts are able to move beyond the past and look forward to future blessings without anxiety over whether they will happen or not.
5. You aren’t always trying to get ahead. If you’re grateful for everything in your life, you feel like you already are ahead—even while you pursue dreams and goals for the future.
6. The people around you know they are appreciated. If you’re really a thankful person, the people around you will know they are a big part of what you are thankful for. Your gratitude to God will translate into gratitude for them.
7. You know you are appreciated—if not by others, at least by the God who made you and values you. You can rest in that love. There’s nothing left to strive for. There may be plenty to do, but nothing left to prove. Which leads us back to point number 1.
In short, a grateful heart strengthens you against many of the wounds and insecurities that drag people down and damage their relationships. Spend some time this week cultivating gratitude in your heart. It will bear fruit in your life you’ll never regret.
by Chris Tiegreen. Read more from Chris at chris-tiegreen.com