Establishing a Habit of Gratitude

5 Mins read

It is difficult for us to create new habits. It could be argued that it’s even harder to break existing habits. However, when you’re trying to make spiritual changes in your life, it’s important that you overcome habits that are holding you back so you can establish new habits that will propel you to higher spiritual planes. Establishing a habit of gratitude is a two-way street. Not only do you need to establish that habit, but you most also put away the habit of complaint. Discover how to do that today.

Forming new habits is difficult. According to psychologists, it takes an average of 66 days for the average person to establish a new habit. You’ve probably seen this truth in your own life at one point or another. For instance, it’s not uncommon for people to begin the new year with a declaration that they are going to start exercising every day. According to other studies, most of those New Year’s resolutions crumble before February 10th of each year. That means that many people shut their new habit down around day 41, a full three weeks before it has a chance to actually become a habit.

In more extreme cases, the same psychological studies that indicate that it takes 66 days to form a habit say that it can take as many as 240 days for some people to create a new habit. Conversely, they do admit that some people are capable of establishing a new habit in as few as 18 days. Obviously, there is no cookie cutter approach to how long it would take you to establish a new habit, but you can assume that it won’t be easy.

Breaking an existing habit is also no small accomplishment. Psychologists say that it takes anywhere between 17 and 250 days for the average person to break an old habit. One of the strongest factors that impact how long it takes to break a habit involves how long that habit has been a part of your life. For instance, if you have smoked cigarettes for 40 years, it would take you longer to give up smoking than someone who has been smoking for six months.

When dealing with establishing a habit of gratitude, two things must happen. Obviously, you must take the time to make thanksgiving a habit in your life. That won’t be easy, as we often focus on the negatives. Our tendency to focus on things that aren’t going the way we want them to often makes it hard for us to be thankful for the things that we should be thankful for. That means that you will also have to break the habit of complaining about things that you don’t like. In many cases, that is a much more difficult concept than establishing a habit of gratitude.

As we are in the holiday season, many of us are naturally taking the time to reflect on the things that we’re grateful for. Thanksgiving has come and gone, and most of us spent some time with friends, family members, and others talking about our gratitude for our blessings. With Christmas quickly approaching, we’re even more focused on the good things in our lives. However, the desire to complain is still present, which means we must break the old habit of complaining before we can fully establish the habit of thanksgiving in our own lives. Discover how to make gratitude a daily habit today.

Use Your Words Carefully
Proverbs 18:20-21 (NIV)
From the fruit of their mouth a person’s stomach is filled; with the harvest of their lips they are satisfied. The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

The Bible talks a lot about the words that we use and the weight that they carry. When dealing with gratitude and complaining, there is nothing more powerful than controlling the words that come out of your mouth. If you wake up with a bad attitude and immediately start talking about how much you dread the day ahead of you, you are significantly more likely to have a bad day.

In the same vein, when you start speaking positively about your day, you will notice a shift in your attitude. Things that typically annoy you won’t completely wreck your day. Instead, you can brush them off by talking about the positive things that are going on in your life.

The words that we use are only part of the equation. It’s equally important that you change your internal dialog if you’re going to overcome the habit of negativity. What kind of words do you say to yourself during the day. “I’m too stupid for this job.” “Everyone here hates me, I don’t know why I even try.” “I’m failing at everything I try to do.” “My neighbor has a much better life than me, I wish I was him.” Those internal statements can bring death and destruction to your life.

On your quest to establish a habit of gratitude in your life, it’s important that you learn to control the words that you use. This applies to what we say out loud and what we internalize. Today, begin the process of establishing your new habit by making changes to your vocabulary.

Look For the Little Blessings
James 1:17 (NIV)
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

We often spend most of our time focusing on the “big” things. For instance, you consider it a blessing when you get a promotion that significantly increases your salary. You consider it a blessing when you make an offer on a home and it gets accepted, allowing you to move into your dream home. However, if you spend all your time focusing on the “big” things, you will miss out on the “little” things. That’s even more alarming when you realize that the “little” things aren’t so little at all.

Every good thing in your life is a gift from God. Take a moment and really let that fact sink in. Anything in your life that is good is the result of God’s desire to bless you.

While social media encourages us to focus on the things that we want to brag about, it’s important to remember the little things. Sure, a new job is a blessing. However, your current job is a blessing, as it provides you with the funds you need to pay your bills. Yes, buying a new home is a blessing and a wonderful opportunity. However, the place that you currently live is a blessing, as it provides you with a place of shelter.

Don’t spend so much time waiting to thank God for big blessings that you lose sight of the blessings you already have. When you start giving thanks every day for the things you already have, it will become a habit.

Count Your Blessings

Finally, one of the most effective ways to shift yourself into a habit of gratitude is a practical step. While there isn’t a Bible verse that commands us to take this step, it’s a great way to make yourself less of a complainer and a more thankful person. It’s found in simply writing down some things that you’re thankful for every day.

The time of day that you journal your blessings isn’t important. You can record the previous day’s blessings while you’re having your morning coffee, or you may choose to record your blessings at the end of each day before you go to bed.

Writing down your blessings will serve as a concrete reminder of the good things that you experienced on a given day. After a couple weeks, this journaling time will become a habit, a part of your daily routine.

A Closing Prayer:
Heavenly Father, forgive me for the times in my life where I’m not as thankful as I should be. Help me to shift my words from words of complaint to words of gratitude. Help me to recognize the things in my life that I may have never considered before as blessings. In Christ’s name, Amen.

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