Being thankful and increasing the amount of gratitude in our lives can be powerful and life changing. On Tuesdays in November, I am writing about this spiritual discipline and exploring some quotes and practices that may be helpful.
If you have read Healthy Spirituality for a while you know I love Henri Nouwen. I bet I quote him more than anyone except for the bible here, so of course had to feature what he said about gratitude. Great wisdom in his words. Savor them.
“Perhaps nothing helps us make the movement from our little selves to a larger world than remembering God in gratitude.
Such a perspective puts God in view in all of life, not just in the moment we set aside for worship or spiritual disciplines.
Not just in the moment when life seems easy.”
“Gratitude goes beyond the ‘mine’ and ‘thine’ and claims the truth that all of life is a pure gift.
In the past I always thought of gratitude as a spontaneous response to the awareness of gifts received, but now I realize that gratitude can also be lived as a discipline.
The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.”
“The choice for gratitude rarely comes without some real effort.
But each time I make it, the next choice is a little easier, a little freer, a little less self-conscious.
Because every gift I acknowledge reveals another and another until, finally, even the most normal, obvious and seemingly mundane event or encounter proves to be filled with grace.
There is an Estonian proverb that says: “Who does not thank for little will not thank for much.”
Acts of gratitude make one grateful because, step by step, they reveal that all is grace.”
“The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.”
“To be grateful for the good things that happen in our lives is easy, but to be grateful for all of our lives – the good as well as the bad, the moments of joy as well as the moments of sorrow, the successes as well as the failures, the rewards as well as the rejections – that requires hard spiritual work.
Still, we are only truly grateful people when we can say thank you to all that has brought us to the present moment.
As long as we keep dividing our lives between events and people we would like to remember and those we would rather forget, we cannot claim the fullness of our beings as a gift of God to be grateful for.”
Pondering these words inspires me to grow deeper in gratitude. Don’t you just love the phrases, “gratitude can also be lived as a discipline” and “Acts of gratitude make one grateful because, step by step, they reveal that all is grace.”
His words made me wonder what questions I could explore to think more about thankfulness, to pay attention to all the blessings that God has given me and to embrace all those things I take for granted.
Here are six that came to mind:
- Think of one or more loved ones – family or friends – and spend a moment being grateful for how they have enriched your life
- What person(s) in history because of what they wrote/did invite you to give thanks?
- What has changed in the past year that you could show thanks for?
- Think of someone who is difficult and challenging for you and find something to be grateful for in that relationship.
- What is something/someone if they were no longer with you, would you miss? Give thanks right now for their presence.
- Who has helped you know God and how could you show your gratitude?
Once I started thinking of different questions and prompt to promote thankfulness I filled a whole page full of them, ending up with 50! If you want the entire list just click the button below for a one page PDF of the questions. And as I am trying to grow my email list to get God’s message out and to grow my writer platform, please share this post by clicking on the social media buttons. I appreciate your help in sharing Healthy Spirituality. Thanks so much!
One last Henri Nouwen quote to close with:
“Let’s not be afraid to look at everything that has brought us to where we are now and trust that we will soon see in it the guiding hand of a loving God.”
Let’s have a great discussion and sharing about this topic. When you read these quotes what did you notice the most? What did these words invite you to do? How do you promote gratitude in your life? And don’t forget to download the free PDF for more ideas.
Click Here to Receive the List