Gratitude is like Gasoline

I can hear the warm hum of the alarm clock on my phone going off on the bedside table as it does its best to coax me back into the land of the living. It’s another 4 am wake-up call — time to head to work. Even though I’ve been doing this for a long time now, I still find my head questioning why I should be awake at such an insane time of the day.

“Are you kidding me”, I say out loud. Then all of a sudden my heart, like a defense-man, checks me into the boards. “Stay faithful in the small things. Respect the process. Give your best in everything you do, even when it’s tough”.

These early morning sucker punches remind me that one of the reasons I do what I do is to take care of my family and to serve the people in my organization the best that I can. And for that I am grateful.

Gratitude is powerful. Gratitude has a way of transforming our hearts.

This fundamental truth has started to infect my DNA to a degree that I never expected over the past several years. I know that none of us have ever been grateful for an infection, but this is one that I hope that I am never cured from.

You see gratitude is like gasoline to a fire. When you pour gratitude on your heart, your attitude, your passions, the things that make you tick, the roaring wildfire that ignites can be uncontrollable.

For the past several years, living in Northern California, especially during a severe drought, there has been no escaping the reality and the devastation of wildfires. They’ve consumed tens of thousands of acres of forest. They’ve consumed homes and in some cases ravaged entire communities.

What if our hearts, when lit on fire and burning uncontrollably with gratitude began to consume and overtake our homes and communities? What would this look like? What if this fire was the remedy to the drought of hopelessness that has plagued our world? Will you strike a match with me and watch it burn?

Gratitude is the foundation for good posture in life. This posture, whether physically, mentally, spiritually or in our relationships is the vehicle that can either cause you to thrive or to break down along the side of the road waiting for the tow truck to haul you in. Unless we have a heart that has been healed and grateful, I am convinced that we will never be fully able to live the life that we were designed to live.

When we have a strong foundation, everything else that is built on top of it will be stronger. My friend and the world’s leading expert on gratitude, Dr. Robert Emmons has spent years studying the far reaching effects of gratitude. Here is what he has to say:

Gratitude has two components. First, it’s an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good thing in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received. This doesn’t mean that life is perfect; it doesn’t ignore complaints, burdens, and hassles. But when we look at life as a whole, gratitude encourages us to identify some amount of goodness in our life.
The second part of gratitude is figuring out where that goodness comes from. We recognize the sources of this goodness as being outside of ourselves. It didn’t stem from anything we necessarily did ourselves in which we might take pride. We can appreciate positive traits in ourselves, but I think true gratitude involves a humble dependence on others: We acknowledge that other people — or even higher powers, if you’re of a spiritual mindset — gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.

It would be easy for most of us to hide and live life in the shadows; the places and mindsets that tell us to take the easy road. It’s easy to complain. Most of us, myself included can do it without even thinking.

To move toward and live a life of substance, we need to embrace a heart of gratitude.

It takes work.

It takes effort.

It takes consistency.

But as we do this we will see that even when we encounter storms in life the anchor of hope that is tethered by gratitude will not let us drift.

I love how the Message version of the Bible puts it in Colossians 2:6–7

My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.

Here’s where to start:

  1. Write down 5–10 things each day that you are grateful for. Set aside a specific time for this (very important). Unless we make this time a priority, it is easy to let it fall off of the grid when the busyness of life presses in.
  2. Start with the easy ones, your family, health, your home, etc.. But don’t stop there. Dig in and really examine what you are grateful for. For me this is just one example: I am grateful for the failures in my life. Each one of them has taught me a lesson and helped me learn and grow into the person that I am in the process of becoming.
  3. Be Consistent: This is key. Practice makes proficient. The magic is in the process not the outcomes.
  4. Once you are done, read each one slowly, out loud and with conviction. There is power in our words. And when we boldly declare these areas of gratefulness out loud, we change the atmosphere around us.

Today, will you choose to live your life with a posture of gratitude?

Let’s commit, together to repeating this out loud to start each day.

I will live my life with a posture and heart of GRATITUDE.

Let’s commit, together to declaring this over ourselves to start each day.

I will live my life with a posture and heart of GRATITUDE.

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