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3 Ways To Exchange Your Negativity for Gratitude


I don’t know about you, but I’m really tired of all the negativity and complaining—much of it oozing from my own heart.

This year has brought about many situations and events to be critical of. And it’s so easy to turn a healthy discipline of critical thinking into mere complaining. Certainly, we can’t pretend the issues of our world don’t exist or just speak toxic positivity over them. But we have to watch how far down the critical road we allow ourselves to walk.

The last coupe of years have been a perfect set up for some of the darkness of our own hearts to be on full display. A shift in our culture, society, and churches has taken place. And in many cases, it hasn’t been for the best. The tension surrounding us has caused us to care less for the heart and soul of others and to care more about stating the “facts” of a situation, regardless of the harm that brings.

What we read, listen to, and expel from our mouths is covered in negativity and downright complaints. This is an exhausting spiral. It’s incredibly draining to ourselves, as well as those around us.

So how do we stop the cycle? How do we climb out of the pit that continues to suck us back in day after day? 

Going into hiding isn’t the answer. I’ve tried that the last few weeks and it hasn’t helped much. We can’t just avoid what’s happening, because as Christians we are called to be light and salt into the world. In order to do that, we have to actually know what’s happening in the world and be able to engage the world where they are.

One of the greatest ways to combat a heart of negativity and complaining is to discipline yourself to have a heart of gratitude. I know many of us become a bit more mindful and intentional about being thankful during the holidays. But this year has proved we need to be more disciplined in this area daily, and not just seasonally.

When I talk about a heart of gratitude I mean more than the canned statements like, “I’m so grateful I got to wake up today and that I have air in my lungs.” Maybe I just have some real maturing to do in this area, but these kinds of responses feel a bit disingenuous and unattainable to me. I want to discipline myself to develop a heart of gratitude in ways that impact my life in the day-to-day and reposition my entire way of doing life.

I’m still new to this journey of intentionally developing a lifestyle of gratitude. But I think there are some tangible ways we can balance our complaining and negativity with thankfulness and gratitude.

Here are three.

1. Confess Your Ingratitude

It’s probably safe to say that no one sets out to be ungrateful. And yet, we all know someone (hmm, maybe ourselves) who is never grateful. Gratitude has to be developed and learned.

Recently I gifted a pretty exciting gift to a small child. And though she didn’t know what it was, she knew a gift was coming. I was really looking forward to seeing her overjoyed excitement that can only come from a surprised child. But that didn’t happen. As soon as I walked in the door she said, “Where’s my present?”