Kent Sanders | Unlock Your Creative Potential

Unlock Your Creative Potential

4 Ways Gratitude Can Change Your Day … and Your Life

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Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. It’s a day to gather with friends and family and reflect on the blessings of the past year. It’s wonderful to have an annual day set aside for giving thanks, but how would it impact our lives if we practiced it every day?

That’s exactly what I’ve been trying to do lately. Over the last few months, I have been making more of an effort to integrate this habit of “giving thanks” into my daily life, and it’s had a profound impact on my overall perspective.

A while back, I heard about the practice of keeping a “gratitude journal.” This sounded like a great idea, so I purchased a small journal and have been making an effort to write in it each day. There are only three things I write on the page: the date, “Today I am thankful for …,” and then three things I’m thankful for that day.

For example, here are some of the items I’ve written in my gratitude journal over the last few months:

Today I am thankful for …

  • Nice weather that isn’t too hot.
  • The opportunity to choose my attitude and actions each day.
  • A new excitement about my future, a new confidence.
  • A wife who is supportive.
  • Making extra money this month.
  • Worship rehearsal tonight and the chance to be in a new setting and meet some new people.
  • Ben—a great kid who is funny, kind-hearted, and caring.
  • I feel like the darkness has lifted a little bit—got a good night’s sleep. Been dealing with a little bit of depression the last few days.
  • Melanie’s job that she loves.
  • My back feeling better after hurting it on a hike 3 weeks ago.
  • Getting a good start on my new book yesterday.

I limit myself to three items every day to keep it short and sweet. Sometimes I write in the morning, sometimes in the evening. Sometimes I forget about doing it. But I try to do it daily, and the whole process literally takes less than two minutes.

As I’ve tried to integrate this habit into my life the last few months, here are four ways it has changed my overall perspective.

1. Gratitude helps me take the focus off my problems. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the problems and frustrations in life. But when I remember that I am a truly blessed man, it lifts my spirit and gives me a new energy that makes it easier to deal with problems.

2. Gratitude helps me be more generous. The practice of gratitude reminds me that I have been given many blessings in life. I didn’t earn them, and I definitely don’t deserve them. In turn, this helps me open my heart to others and be more generous.

3. Gratitude helps me realize that I need other people. Most of the time, when I’m writing in my gratitude journal, my thoughts turn to people who have helped me. I think of my family, students, friends, people from church, authors, and many others who have made my life sweeter. True gratitude reminds us that there’s very little we can accomplish on our own.

4. Gratitude helps me be thankful for the little things. In one of my journal entries, I wrote that I was thankful for being able to take our Australian shepherd Madison to the vet because I knew she was in pain due to an ear infection. I know that’s a small thing, but I was genuinely grateful for it. If we can’t appreciate the little blessings in life, how can we truly appreciate the big ones?

I would definitely recommend getting a small journal and writing down a few things you’re thankful for every day. This habit has truly impacted my life in a subtle but important way over the last few months. Every day—not just today—should be a day of Thanksgiving.

What are you thankful for today?

About Kent Sanders

I help people unlock their God-given creative potential. I live with my wife and son in St. Peters, MO. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or YouTube.

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  • Justin Larson

    Hi Kent,
    Great reminder for me. I especially like #3. Always try to do it all myself and need to remember that I need other people too! I’m grateful for your friendship, even though we’ve never met face to face I feel like you’re a brother to me. Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Justin, thanks for commenting! I definitely miss our talks and would love to meet in person at some point. It’s funny how your “online” friends can be just as close (or sometimes closer) than “in person” friends. Hope you have fantastic Thanksgiving!