Gratitude is good for physical and mental health, but is it possible to incorporate it into daily life? It begins with small, intentional steps.
Bill Gran, a spiritual ministries senior consultant and pastor at the Good Samaritan Society, began incorporating gratitude into his life several years ago after listening to a speaker talk about it. The speaker mentioned a friend who replied with, “I’m grateful,” rather than “I’m fine,” when asked how she was doing.
After that day, Bill decided to focus on gratitude. He started by expressing it when greeted by co-workers. If he was having a hard day, he’d say, “I’m kind of sad today, but I’m grateful.” If something fun was happening, he’d say, “I’m really excited and grateful.”
Bill reasoned that even if hard things were happening, there were still things to be thankful for. After reading “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young, he was struck by how often she talks about trust and thanksgiving. When reading Psalm 100:4, he realized worshipping God was done through thankfulness.
Around the same time, Bill was also asked to lead a retreat that centered around the book, “Attitudes of Gratitude” by M.J. Ryan. In it, she names the gifts of gratitude and how gratitude helps us feel good and increases health.
After the retreat, Bill began weaving gratitude more and more throughout his day and saw that it had a snowball effect. Today, it’s his way of life and gives him an awareness of God at work.
When we’re grateful, it leads us into being aware of what God’s blessings are." – Bill Gran, a spiritual ministries senior consultant and pastor at the Good Samaritan Society.
Practicing daily gratitude
On his walks, Bill likes to sing. Usually, it’s one of his favorite hymns, “For the Beauty of the Earth.” He says it’s a reminder of all he’s grateful for.
During his morning prayers, he incorporates gratitude as he prays for family and friends. He also thanks God for the people who frustrate him.
As he leaves the house, Bill sees a note on his bathroom mirror that reminds him to be thankful.
During the workday, Bill prays before eating lunch and before starting meetings. He makes it a point to ask meeting attendees what their concerns and joys are so he can pray for them. The items on his desk and bookshelf in his office, also serve as reminders to be grateful.
Even his email signature points to gratitude. It reads: “BG (Bill Gran & Blessed and Grateful).”
Each evening, Bill says he thinks about one thing he accomplished and one thing that brought him joy.
“I think gratitude has changed me,” he says. “It’s not that hard things don’t happen, but it provides balance and I’ve realized I go to sleep more peacefully.”
Making gratitude a habit
Bill says that most people can get stuck in an either/or mentality when it comes to gratitude, not realizing that it’s always a possibility.
He adds that incorporating gratitude into daily life begins when you realize what a difference it makes. It’s not about being happy all the time, but rather recognizing things you’re grateful for despite your current feelings.
“You can get stuck in the negatives,” Bill says. “But once you begin to practice gratitude, you’ll discover the blessings and keep doing it.”
Some of the benefits he’s experienced include being more mindful of the present and the gifts each moment offers.
“I think gratitude has changed me and changed the people around me,” says Bill. “Thankfulness enables me to be aware of God’s presence and see his blessings.”
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