Welcome to the second habit in the #GiveMe30HabitProject!!
See this post for all the details and backstory!
This month’s focus is gratitude!
Research has shown that the practice of gratitude can actually help rewire our mindset to become more positive in our outlook. Studies have proven that this is beneficial even in elderly individuals! The idea that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks is actually false. The truth is that we are never too old to grow and improve. Change is always a possibility.
Most people feel like they need to reach a certain level of success before they will be happy and content. Human psychology research has demonstrated that it is actually the other way around. Happy people are the ones who become the most successful, rather than the previously held notion that success is what causes people to become happy. The more grateful we are, the more joyful we become. So gratitude is a means to success. Check out The Happiness Advantage: How a Positive Brain Fuels Success in Work and Life by Shawn Achor for more on the science of happiness and positive psychology.
According to an article in the Harvard Mental Health Letter, “gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.” Giving Thanks Can Make You Happier (Harvard Healthbeat)
Beyond our own success, I believe that it is the Lord’s will for us to live as a people of thankfulness and gratitude, which ultimately leads to peace and joy.
The Bible says we are to have a thankful attitude:
“Always be full of joy. Never stop praying. Whatever happens, always be thankful. This is how God wants you to live in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ERV)
So how are we supposed to practice gratitude as a habit or spiritual discipline?
Gratitude can be practiced many ways. I listed some in this mini challenge. Some of the most common are:
- Expressing gratitude to others verbally for something they have done.
- Expressing gratitude to someone in a card or or quick email.
- Writing a few things you’re grateful for each day in a notebook or gratitude journal that you keep for yourself.
- Sharing what you are grateful for with others out loud, like at the dinner table each night.
- Journaling a few sentences about an event from the day that you are grateful for at the end of your day.
- Meditating on the things you are grateful for at the end of your day.
- Spending time in prayer giving thanks to the Lord and telling Him what you are grateful for.
My favorite way to practice gratitude is by keeping a daily gratitude journal. I prefer this method because it is quick and easy to fit in to my morning quiet time routine. It is also usually a good prompt to start my prayers. I use the other ways to practice gratitude on occasion, but they take longer to do and are therefore not practical for me to implement daily. Remember this is about consistency!
All I do is write the date and jot down 3 things from the previous 24 hours that I am grateful for. As you can imagine, when I first started doing this, it was fairly easy to find things to be grateful for. The catch that they have to be 3 new things each day starts to make it more difficult to find things that aren’t repeated. This is where the actual magic happens! You will eventually have to look for positives within the negatives in order to come up with new gratitudes. Doing so is what helps to train your brain to see things from a positive perspective.
I have been doing this for several years now. Each day, I list my 3 new things I am grateful for in a small notebook. It takes less than 1 minute, but the impact it has had on my mindset has been amazing. Not only do I find myself seeing the positive within the negative situations for myself, I also seem to default to pointing them out for others when they are telling me something that seems negative at first.
As someone of faith, I also believe we must keep things in context of Romans 8:28, and training our minds to believe for and see the best in every situation is a critical part of walking out a belief in that promise.
“Moreover we know that to those who love God, who are called according to his plan, everything that happens fits into a pattern for good.” Romans 8:28 (Phillips)
Paul also speaks in scripture about the benefits of focusing on the things which are good:
“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.” Philippians 4:8 (MSG)
I also love the amplified translation:
“Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].” Philippians 4:8 (AMP)
Now that you have an idea of what the habit looks in practice and the benefits of practicing it, it’s your turn!
For the next 30 days:
- Write down 3 things each morning which you are grateful for in a notebook.
- Practical Tips: Pair this habit with something that you already do daily, like your morning coffee or quiet time. That way you will have a cue to keep you from forgetting. You do not need a fancy or expensive notebook. I literally just use a 99¢ spiral notebook. Keep the journal in plain sight so you see it as a trigger.
- Make a metal note any time you notice any shifts in your outlook and mood, experience peace despite a negative situation, or see how your cheerful attitude was beneficial or led to your success.
- Practical Tips: Call these benefits to mind whenever you don’t feel like following through on your habit.
- Ask a friend or your spouse to join you in this habit.
- Practical tips: Check in with one another and share your ideas and struggles so that you can help each other stay excited about the habit.
🚨Don’t forget to share this project with others! You can share the link to this blog post as a status/post on Facebook. Feel free to save and use the image from this post, or use the ones I’ll have on my Instagram page. Whatever other means you have to get more involvement will make this more fruitful! Tweet, email, pin, etc.
Also, I encourage you to keep track of your journey and use the hashtag #GiveMe30HabitProject on social media. Please tag me in your habit progress and insights! I’ll also be glad to troubleshoot sticking points. I’m Kaci M Byrd Cheeseman on Facebook and @CheeseGirlPA on Instagram.
If you want to check in daily for accountability, you can post either a photo and/or status and use #GiveMe30HabitProject #Day1, #GiveMe30HabitProject #Day2, so on and so forth. I’d love to see how it goes and repost—only if you give me permission, of course! I’ll be searching the hashtag to see who is joining in.
Remember: What is it you want to achieve? Who do you want to become? How do you want to serve others? You may not know how to get there, or even how to get started. I just ask that you trust me and help spread the message to others so they can become involved. Keep showing up, and together we will get you there, one 30 day habit at a time!
Are you ready? Let’s get growing!!
P.S. If you are interested in working on a specific habit and need someone to help you troubleshoot, keep you motivated, and hold you accountable, I offer coaching a variety of ways, which you can learn more about here. My specialty is habit change and my approach is to work on mindset alongside the habit, so that it is healthy and sustainable. Whether it involves your health, finances, nutrition, exercise, relationships, or personal growth, habits are the key to success. We are the outcome of what we repeatedly do. Without addressing that, there can be no change. Learn more here!
1/ Have you read The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor?
2/ Have you ever heard of the benefits of gratitude before?