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3 Ways to Exchange Your Negativity for Gratitude

Her parents were mortified and I was so bummed. She opened the gift and that was the end of it. There was no thank you, no hug, no shock and amazement, no gratitude. After much coaching from her parents, she came back to thank me. Gratitude has to be taught. She felt entitled to her gift. And to our shame, we’re not much different.

Part of disciplining yourself to be a person of gratitude is to be aware of the ways in which you’re lacking in this area. This doesn’t mean you have to beat yourself up and dwell on these matters too long. But to move towards becoming more grateful it’s good to confess the ways in which you aren’t.

Colossians 3:12-13 calls us to seek forgiveness for those we have a complaint against. If you find yourself complaining about the decisions of your leaders, coworkers, or family members, then I encourage you to confess that to the Lord and ask for forgiveness. It really is amazing how your heart begins to change when you are aware of how often ingratitude pours from your heart.

2. Verbally Share Your Gratitude for Others

A large part of Jesus’ ministry was signs and wonders. It’s easy to overlook all of the unique stories of Jesus performing miracles and healing people. Because there are so many. But their placement in scripture is about more than building Jesus’ resume of miracles. Each story has a point.

There’s one in particular that stands out to me as I’ve been ever so slowly reading through the book of Luke. Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem when he runs into ten lepers who ask for him to heal them. He does, which is what I expected. One turns back to literally give a shout of praise for his healing, which is reasonably expected as well.

But then Jesus asks where the other nine lepers are. Only one came back to give praise and thanks to Jesus for his healing. One out of ten! And to top it off, he was the foreigner. It’s like the rest of them expected healing because they were Jewish. It was the one who didn’t feel entitled to be healed who was most grateful.

There are many times when we feel entitled for people to do things for us. So when they don’t, we’re quick to be upset. And when they do, we still aren’t quick to show our gratitude. Whether your expectation of another person is aptly placed or not, you should still be grateful. It’s even better to verbally express that gratefulness.

This is a practice my husband and I began in our marriage, but have quickly fallen away from. We used to periodically say things throughout the day like, “I appreciate you” or “thanks for doing the dishes.” It’s a practice we should really bring back. Expressing your gratitude for someone is always a nice thing to hear.

Developing a heart of gratitude means you have to stop to appreciate present moments. So the next time someone shows care towards you, even in the smallest of ways, remember to verbally share how grateful you are. Try to be specific in what you are grateful for. Verbalize it in that moment. Developing these patterns in your life will go a long way in readjusting your heart.

3. Choose Five Things You’re Grateful for Each Day

This may seem like a silly thing to add to your already long list of things to do for the day. But it really is a practical way to discipline yourself to be grateful.

In the book of Colossians, Paul writes to a church of believers who are being bombarded by false teaching. He’s writing to encourage them and remind them of their faith in Jesus. He doesn’t want them to be swept away by the enticing and flashy teaching of the false prophets.