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It’s important to be grateful for the things you have, but, as a result of our busy lives, we often forget to count our blessings and express our gratitude to God, especially when things are difficult and we are going through stresses in life.
It’s important to stop and reflect on all the positive things in your life otherwise the trials can seem all that more overwhelming.
When you are just so stressed out and overwhelmed by all the stuff you have to do wouldn’t it feel nice to take a few minutes every day to reflect on even one thing you’re thankful for?
So read on to learn how YOU can start the habit of thankfulness and praise by creating a gratitude journal.
What is Gratitude?
The Hebrew term for gratitude is hikarat hatov and it means, quite literally, “recognizing the good”. When we examine our lives, the world around us, and recognize at all we are blessed with (recognizing the good) and we look for reasons to express our gratitude to God and to those around us, then we are truly living a life of gratitude.
Now let’s not miss this important point. Recognizing means it is there already, waiting to be seen. When you recognize a person, that person is there in front of you. You just see them for who they are! Hikarat hatov is seeing the good that is already there in front of you!
So to be grateful means being fully aware, to fully recognize what is yours.
The definition of gratefulness by Oxford Languages is “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.”
Expressing Gratitude to God
Are you ready to show appreciation for AND to return kindness?
One way to do this involves praising Him and thanking Him in both the storms and the sunshine!
Like Paul and Silas in prison, we need to praise Him IN all our circumstances. It doesn’t say FOR them but IN them.
The entirety of Psalm 100 is a heartfelt expression of praise and gratitude to God. And the Psalms tell us that “the Lord is good; his love endures forever,” (Psalm 100:5), and when we acknowledge His greatness with our thanksgiving, His faithfulness endures forever.
Scripture tells us
So one way to become a more joyful person is by becoming a more grateful person- thankful for his promises – a habit of thankfulness can actually be a very important part of your spiritual journey.One way to become a more joyful person is by becoming a more grateful person- thankful for his promises – a habit of thankfulness can actually be a very important part of your spiritual journey. #gratitude Click To Tweet
Keep in mind I said “joyful” and not “happy”. Happiness is a feeling where joy is a choice and a state of being.
Feelings are fickle and can change from one moment to the next. We don’t rely on feelings. Love is often thought of as a feeling but it is a choice and a state of being. Joy is much the same. Never rely on the feeling of happiness to be what drives you.
But being thankful for all the blessings in life can only happen if you have a habit of acknowledging the things that God is actually doing in your life, that way when you do go through trials and tribulations, you will be able to persevere because you know He is there.
One way to do this is by keeping a gratitude journal.
The Many Benefits of Gratitude Journals
So what does a gratitude journal do?
A gratitude journal can help you stay on top of this habit of thankfulness by providing an organized (and habitual) way to capture your thoughts about what God has done in your life.
Gratitude journals can actually improve your mood, health and even sleep! And there is a reason for that.
It’s pretty simple – gratitude journals help you focus on all the good things in your life, and paying attention to what is positive helps people become more optimistic.
Being optimistic can make it easier to experience joy, be more healthy, more motivated and less stressed out throughout the day!
The Importance of Expressing Gratitude to God
At the heart of the matter, it is important to express gratitude to God simply because the Bible tells us to.
Gratitude can have many benefits to our mental health. There are numerous studies that prove this claim, which is why gratitude has become recognized as something that should be included in everyone’s life.
Expressing appreciation for the things that you have is an excellent way of keeping joy ever present in your life, in spite of your circumstances.
Sometimes we tend to focus so much on what we lack in our lives that we can’t see the good that offsets it.
We are inundated day after day on television and social media with how inadequate our lives are because we don’t have the newest car or can’t take that great vacation or don’t have as nice a house as someone else and we compare.
But the truth is, there will ALWAYS be something we don’t have or someone we cannot compare to and if that is what we focus on then our lives will always be filled with nothing but a sense of lack and dissatisfaction.The truth is, there will ALWAYS be something we don't have or someone we cannot compare to and if that is what we focus on then our lives will always be filled with nothing but a sense of lack and dissatisfaction. #gratitude Click To Tweet
The Chassidic teacher, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, whose work I am studying right now each week with my Rabbi and others from our congregation, wrote:
How do you express thankfulness to God?
There are so many methods to show God thanks for everything He has done, who He is, and the blessings we are promised in the age to come!
Did you know that when you sing a worship song, your voice is expressing your adoration and gratitude to God?
When you read the Word, it is not only showing gratitude for giving you His written Word but we are also silently praying to Him as well. As we read the Psalms, we are reading the prayers and devotions of King David.
When you pray, one of the things you should do aside from offering Him adoration and confession and petitions is giving Him thanks for all He has done in your life. It is part of the ACTS Prayer Method.
Sing worship songs! I LOVE expressing my gratitude to and praise for Him by singing worship songs. Again, I go back to King David! He wrote amazing songs of thankfulness to God.
Sing your thanks and praise and, like David, write down your thankfulness.
So how exactly does a gratitude journal help you to do all of this?
So How Do You Start a Gratitude Journal?
Well, there are many different ways I am sure and many types of journals out there but I will share mine because I like uncomplicated things and I like what comes from the heart.
I sit quietly with it for a few moments and I think about the day before and even that very morning. And at the top of the page I write “What I am Thankful For” and then today’s date.
Then I start writing. I write about everything I am thankful for.
Now, at least for me, it is important that I don’t write out every single thing day after day after day.
In other words, I am always thankful for my husband but I am not going to list that in my journal every single day because I want my journal to be a journal, not a laundry list of things I just name off.
BUT…if my husband does something special for me or says something that made me laugh on a bad day, then I WILL record that.
Do you see where I am going with this? I don’t want to just make my journal about generalities. I want to be very specific about what I am thankful for.
Some days, I may have only one thing. Is that because only one thing happened that I am thankful for? No!
But we are friends here so let’s be honest. Some days we can’t see the forest for the trees. We have bad days too! So because I make that effort to not name off everything, the kitchen sink and my Great Aunt Sally, I may only be able to name one thing.
AND THAT IS OK!
I will make it up the next day! God is not surprised by what He gets with me! He knows I am not perfect and He knows my heart is a grateful one.
Being Grateful Doesn’t Take a Lot
You don’t need fancy or expensive gratitude journals to do the trick unless you LOVE to journal and do all that colored pen and washi tape stuff. I am NOT that person! But if you are, then you do you!! I wish I was that creative.
But if you are like me and you’re not, you don’t need all that. A simple notebook will do.
The important thing is to do what YOU feel is right for you. Don’t feel like money or creativity should stop you! Anything can be a gratitude journal, no matter how great or how small.
The important thing is that you express yourself to the Lord and share with Him how much you appreciate all He does for you!
And remember, having gratitude doesn’t just mean a quick “thank you” and then going about your day. It means living a life of gratitude and having it become a part of who you are. You can pass that along to others along the way and below you can find some ways to do that in a 30 Day Gratitude Challenge
So be sure to get your 30 Day Gratitude Challenge Sheets Below!
Tree of Life (TLV) – Scripture taken from the Holy Scriptures, Tree of Life Version*. Copyright © 2014,2016 by the Tree of Life Bible Society. Used by permission of the Tree of Life Bible Society.