Choosing Gratitude series, Gratitude, Guest Posts

Choosing Gratitude (series): The Domino Effect of Practicing Gratitude

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

When I come to November in a year, something happens in my spirit. I’m ready to cozy down into warm sweaters and soft blankets. I love scented candles burning and soups simmering on the stovetop. It’s a time to slow  down and reflect over the year. When my spirit is in a good place, my heart finds much to be grateful for. One thing that fills me with gratitude is the gift of friends—real life and blogging friends.

For the next few weeks, I have invited five friends I respect deeply to share stories and thoughts on gratitude in their lives. I hope you will join with me for all five weeks and share your responses to their words. If you miss a week, you can click Choosing Gratitude series to catch up with the other posts in this series. Will you settle in with me, with a mug of something warm in your hands and think on those things and happenings in the year for which you are grateful?

*****

I first met Meghan Weyerbacher online a few years back, I believe through the amazing Five Minute Friday linkup. We’ve followed each other on social media. In the summer of 2017, I had the privilege of meeting Meghan in person. She’s real and delightful and has a heart to encourage others. It’s been fun watching God take Meghan and use her to encourage and minister to writers through her blog, and recently, through her book. Please help me welcome Meghan Weyerbacher to this little corner of the blog-o-sphere today!

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Gratitude. It’s something I want to have, something I want my children to understand. It can be frustrating when I’ve done my utmost best in something and it doesn’t seem to matter. I become agitated. I begin to worry “why” did I even bother?

See where I am going with this?

This cycle wears my mama heart right out onto the sticky floor and I find myself more focused on what I did wrong, or what my kids did wrong—than the right that happened.

And this cycle touches more than just parenting. It tries to stick its prickly tentacles where they don’t belong. Soon, I am trapped in a wrong mindset. A “preparing for the worst,” mindset.

This is no way to live my friend.

A Fun & Simple Way to Implement Gratitude, Daily

In her book, Think Learn Succeed: Understanding and Using Your Mind to Thrive at School, the Workplace, and Life, Dr. Caroline Leaf asks us a question. “Is the way we’re working, working?”

How I’d been functioning and responding was not working, let me tell you.

A few years ago I got my hands on Jennifer Dukes Lees book, The Happiness Dare. A challenge in the book was to get a jar and write something down we were grateful, from that day.

I crafted a jar and began faithfully slipping my bright colored notes inside the glass each evening. Little by little, my thought process began to change. When yuck hit the fan—I’d breathe deep and try to fish for the good. This did, I repeat, did not come naturally.

Over time, this new mindset took root, all because I knew I needed to have something for that jar.

It’s the simple things, right? Now digging for the good isn’t so much work as it is habit. A fun one at that.

Practicing Gratitude Helps Our Mental Health

Those small annoyances snowball when we mull over them, right? Most of us realize the power of rumination. We can use the power we’ve been given, for good instead.

We have to capture those annoyances mentally, and hand them over to God. Using our minds to remind ourselves Who is holding the world, is a sometimes moment by moment practice. 

  • Maybe it seems no one notices all the hard work you put in.
  • Maybe you try your best but continually get rejected.
  • Maybe those around you seem to have it all under control, but not you.

These things can turn into lies entangling us if we ruminate in the wrong way.

Dr. Leaf says this: 

“Thoughts create your mood and influence how you feel physically.” 

What we think about leads us into the next, and into the next—creating our future minutes.

Life can be tough at times but dwelling on the negative will for sure not help us out. 

When we refocus our thoughts on “what is good, lovely, and true,” we are building a (faith) muscle up by using our brain muscle in the right way.

Our brain helps determine where we will spend mental energy. When we train our brain to do what it was meant to—look for the good—we train it to steer our minds the correct and healthy way.

We’re not in denial when we want to take power out of dread’s hands and put hope to good use. That hope blasts into the dark spaces and lights it up like a firecracker, allowing us to be grateful for what we previously could not see with the naked eye.

  • Practicing gratitude leads to hope.
  • Hope leads to faith.
  • Faith leads us on a path of healing.

What about you? How do you practice gratitude? What ways have helped you make this a lifestyle?

Meghan Weyerbacher is a poet, essayist and storyteller. She writes clean romance novels with a hint of suspense & humor while her Cabin Fever scented candle burns into nothing. Connect with her more on the blog, Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. Get a copy of her debut novel, Organic Love today!

Click to Tweet: Using our minds to remind ourselves Who is holding the world, is a sometimes moment by moment practice

I’m linking up with #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, and Holley Gerth

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33 thoughts on “Choosing Gratitude (series): The Domino Effect of Practicing Gratitude”

  1. Lovely post, Meg (and Jeanne, thank you for having this delightful person in your guest rotation!).

    Gratitude’s easy for me, especially today – I’m alive to write this. A few hours ago, I had a massive ‘pain event’, an angina-like spasm that literally took my breath away (it’s not angina; it’s something far worse). All I could do was wait for it to moderate, or for me to die (since I am DNR, there’s not much point in calling 911…even if I DID have a phone).

    It took me to the wall, and then eased off just a bit. The demon’s still there, but I was able to get the ‘mental upper hand’, since the mind’s the best pain-controller of all.

    Barb asked if I would rather not just give up, give in, and die, and said it would be all right if I did.

    It wouldn’t be all right for me.

    And I am glad to be alive. I’d be dancing, if it didn’t hurt so much. So if it’s OK, how about if David Lee Roth dances in my stead?

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    1. Andrew, first of all, I’m so, so sorry you had such a massive pain-event. I’m relieved to hear it eased off, at least a little. Thank you for your perspective…we can be grateful no matter the difficulty of the circumstance. You, my friend, are brave and a testimony to determination to live every single day well. Thanks for the David Roth stand-in for your dancing. He’s definitely got the moves. 😉

      Praying for you and for Barb today.

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      1. Anita, you are right. Gratitude is always a wonderful choice we can make. Though it’s a more intentional choice when we walk through hard things, I’m thankful God meets us where we are when all we can say is, “Thank you for being here.”

        Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s so easy to fall into the habit of always “preparing for the worst”, but what a terrible way to live life! You are absolutely right, an attitude of gratitude is a blessing!

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  3. It’s true: we have to re-train our brains to respond in gratitude. Thanks for this very practical input, Meghan, And thanks, Jeanne, for getting us into the gratitude groove in time for the Thanksgiving Day!

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    1. Michele, God has used Phil 4:8 to retrain (and retrain) my brain in the way I think. It’s pivotal to have our thoughts dwelling in healthy places, isn’t it? And for the record, I figure we can never get too much into gratitude, it’s such a powerful heart-helper. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you, Meg and Jeanne, for these needed reminders to practice gratitude. I’m still a work in progress and I so easily forget, but I’m learning to notice more things to be grateful for and to breathe prayers of “Thank You, God!” As you commented to Michele, I, too, forget I am His and He is mine. Blessings and hugs to both of you!

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    1. Trudy, aren’t we all works in progress?? 🙂 I love that you are choosing to notice more things to be grateful for. Your blog posts have borne testimony of that. I’m so thankful we are God’s and He is ours. Thank you for sharing here today, friend. Blessings and hugs to you, too!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is a great post! It definitely makes a big difference to our perspective when we get into the habit of practicing gratitude and seeking reasons to be thankful!

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  6. Lovely post. It is so easy in getting caught up in not be happy with our selves because we are expecting different responses. Recently my daughter asked me why I participated again in a certain function when the planners are clearly not organized. I told her that it needed to be done. Then yesterday in the mail I got a thank you card from a bystander that really understood what was going on and really appreciated what I was able to do. I showed it to my daughter and told her this was why. Not because I got appreciated but because my efforts made a difference to someone. I think that is where we need to remember that if we made one person smile, then our job was good.

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    1. Yes–one person makes anything worth it. And for those who suffer and can’t get out, or havea hard time finding ways to bless others–we have to learn we are not worth what we do. We are just simply His, yes? So appreciate this.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Awww, Anita, I love this story. The truth is, we never really know the extent of which God will use our willing hearts. Even when things are disorganized . . . even when things don’t appear to be what we expected . . . sometimes God surprises us, doesn’t He? How special that you received that notecard, and were able to share a broader perspective with your daughter.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Meg and Jeanne … thanks for this gentle, practical reminder to fan the flames of our gratitude. I love the idea of filling a jar with bits and pieces of thankfulness … and inviting our family to do the same would be a fun activity.

    Thanks, ladies!

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    1. Linda, didn’t Meg share so many practical things about gratitude?! I like the jar idea too. We’ve kept “gift lists” on our walls for the past few years. It’s always a little bit amazing to see the many gifts God gives us through the year that we can remember and highlight in our home.

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  8. “ Life is only as good as the people you get to share it with” Darren Criss
    I’m so grateful for Holly Girth’s link up! This is such an important message. Gratitude will change you life for the better. It’s impossible to be sad, anxious, or any other negative emotion while being grateful.

    One simple act of setting our hearts to be thankful helps us receive all the goodness life has to offer. The simplest way I practice gratitude everyday is starting my day praising the Lord.

    Journaling my gratitude also reminds of how blessed I really am. When I write, it sets my thoughts on the good things, and it fills me up with hope. If I’m ever down, I can reread it and put myself back in remembrance of there is always something to be thankful for. Where the mind goes, your life will follow. With a thankful mindset, you set yourself up to receive even more things to be grateful for.

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    1. Jammie, I enjoy journaling too. Even when I’m walking through hard seasons, if I choose gratitude, God strengthens me to continue walking forward in faith. Journaling is a good way to remember God’s faithfulness, isn’t it? And you’re right, where our thoughts dwell will determine where we go next. Great thoughts!

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  9. I must admit I kept scrolling back to the tee-ball picture. That’s such a lovely picture! It conveys how we can teach gratitude to the next generations too, by being present with our kids and grandchildren. Gratitude is a timeless activity taught through the generations. Thanks for being a gratitude teacher for today!

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    1. I love that picture too, Lynn. It’s from many years ago, but it’s still poignant. And yes, part of the reason we list our gifts at dinner many evenings is to teach our boys a gratitude habit/mindset. Of course, as teens, they’re not thrilled with having to think about things they’re thankful for in their days. But, maybe, it will rub off when those frontal lobes fuse in their twenties. 😉 So glad you stopped by!

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  10. I’m so late to the party, but lately, I’ve been practicing gratitude by trusting. Last night, I was taking off my earrings (my favorite pair, the only pair I wear, diamond studs) and the back fell out of my hand. I didn’t see it hit the counter. I checked the floor, nothing. I had my junky drawer opened and figured it went there. I looked through it … nothing. It’s the original back … I didn’t want to have to replace it, and life has been so busy that I didn’t want to take time to clean my drawer. I just said … okay God, you’ve got this. It’s okay. I pulled out the junky drawer, ready to attempt to clean it … and there I saw the gold back. Lately, when things seem bad … I just try to remember that I need to trust God. My mistake doesn’t equal God’s mistake. Maybe He’s slowing me down, etc. ❤

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    1. And I’m even later to respond, Shelli. SO sorry! Trusting and gratitude . . . I like that. Watching how the Lord shows up even in our little needs and wants definitely makes a heart thankful and trustful. I love your way of choosing gratitude, Shelli . . . choosing to trust God when things seem bad or hard. Loved your words!

      Like

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