| By Pete Burak

Cultivate a spirit of gratitude

Isn’t it amazing how easily we human beings can take things for granted?

Often the initial rush of excitement and gratitude diminish, and before long, what was once a prized possession or important relationship has faded. This happens with surface things such as new shoes or a fun sports victory, but also can threaten more important matters such as deep relationships with loved ones.

The quintessential biblical example of this revolves around the Israelites’ commitment to the Lord. We may shake our heads in disbelief at the Israelites’ repeated short-term memory loss regarding God’s faithfulness and power as they moved toward the Promised Land, but let’s be honest, we all have failed at practicing gratitude from time to time in our own lives. Why do we often go through life frustrated by what we don’t have, instead of grateful for what we do? The human heart can be fickle, so recognizing this universal temptation, here are three tips for cultivating a spirit of gratitude instead.

1. Praise God, even when you don’t feel like it.

Gratitude isn’t simply a feeling, but a decision to acknowledge, thank and love the source of all good things in our lives. When we praise God every day because of who he is and what he’s done for us, we are transformed. Praise shifts our focus from our own shortcomings and concerns and helps us see him who is the fulfillment of our desires.

2. Humbly serve others.

Ask yourself how you can be a blessing for other people today. Putting others’ needs before our own strengthens our hearts against the predictable waves of temptation to undue self-concern. Humility says, “Everything I have is a gift, so how can I generously share those gifts?” Generosity and gratitude go hand in hand.

3. Pause each day to say thank you.

If you want to be more grateful, then intentionally make time to thank God. Thank him for the good, the challenges, the joys and the sufferings. Thank him for his love, joy, presence, faithfulness and invitations. A moment of stillness to bring to mind reasons for gratitude can help your heart and mind be more disposed to thankfulness throughout the rest of the day.

While we’ve never been dramatically freed from the slavery of a murderous pharaoh, fed supernaturally every morning and evening or been guided by a pillar of fire, we received the gift of life, freed from the power of sin and death, and have access to an intimacy with God beyond anything Moses could have imagined in the Eucharist … let’s not take this for granted!

Pete Burak is the director of i.d.9:16, the young adult outreach of Renewal Ministries. He has a master’s degree in theology and is a frequent speaker on evangelization and discipleship.

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