Practicing gratitude in the midst of overwhelm is simpler than you think. Yep, I have five reasons to begin your gratitude practice now that I want you to adopt today. C'mon, give it try!
Who remembers this little refrain?
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God has done!
So how about we do this simple practice together? List ten things right now. Yes, write now. (See what I did there?) Stop what you're doing. Assuming that you're not driving, and you have a few minutes to press pause. Now, grab the nearest piece of paper, and pen or simply open the notes on your phone.
Now breathe in and breathe out. You can keep your eyes closed or open and just express thanks for ten things. Now, write them down. (By this time you should have your eyes open!) How did it go? Still, need a little help? It's okay. Here's a little trick. Let your senses guide you. Stir fry cooking on the stove or popcorn in the microwave? What about oooooey gooey chocolate chip cookies in the oven? Stove, microwave, oven, oh my! Oh yes, I have electricity or gas, appliances, and oh so delicious meals cooking in said appliances. Ahhhhh, now you're getting it. You learn quickly grasshopper. And that's about five things to be grateful for right there! Awesome, you're halfway there. Let's keep going, shall we? Take note of where you are. Are you standing or sitting, or practicing a headstand (whoa, ninja status)? Maybe you're sprawled across your bed, chillaxin on your big comfy sofa, at the dining room table, the lazy boy in your home office? All of the above? Thank you, Lord, that I have not one but several comforting places to rest, read, and relax.
This may seem a bit silly to some but when we actually realize how much we have to be thankful for, our perspectives shift. We move from a place of lack to a place of abundance and fulfillment. Why? Because practicing gratitude allows us to see what is truly important. A microwave is important? Ummm yes! How so? The time that it saves us in preparation means we can redirect that time for impromptu sing-offs to Grease in the kitchen, or listening to the umpteenth ridiculously silly knock-knock jokes from your four-year-old that totally makes no sense at all, or getting in one last video chat of your adorable grandbaby before bedtime.
It's amazing how a crisis can cause us to strip down to our essentials-food, water, shelter, sense of belonging, community, health (spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical health). Now, let's take a closer look at these essentials. These are the building blocks of living. When you look at your list, does it include food, water, shelter, sense of belonging, community, and health? I hope so.
Five Reasons to Begin a Gratitude Practice Now in the Midst of Overwhelm
1. According to the CDC, over 780 million people worldwide do not have access to clean water. Likewise, according to the USDA, in 2018, 88.9% of American households were food insecure during the entire year. Count your blessings if you have access to clean water and are food secure. Psalm 107:9 says, "For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things."
2. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness's latest report, over 500,000 individuals in the U.S. experience homelessness. Count your blessings if you have a place to call home, be a 500 square foot apartment, a beach bungalow, city rowhome, or a sprawling ranch. Psalm 27:5 says, "For in the day of trouble. he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock."
3. Knowing that we belong within a family or group is a fundamental human need. Colossians 1:16 tells us that, "For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him." All things. All things have a purpose. All things have a place. All things have a beginning and an end. All things belong. Our sense of belonging was placed in us by God. Although we are unique, we are more alike than we are different. Finding similarities between us helps to activate, strengthen, and cultivate our sense of belonging.
4. Community is the place where our belonging thrives. As we've transitioned into physical distancing these past six weeks, we recognize two things: humans crave belonging and humans need community. Not to mention we are extremely adaptable creatures! We're all itching to get back to fellowshipping and worshipping together at church, a spin class at the gym, coffee chats, small group bible study, pounding the pavement with our running club, experiencing an African dance, or staging a community theatre show. I'm with you! Isn't it amazing how even though we're separate we still cultivate community? That's a blessing. Count that.
5 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies." It's so important that during these times of uncertainty that we do not neglect our health-our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. I am making it a point to take time out each day to one thing that improves my health. I can take a walk on my incline trainer, or download a free class and workout right in my living room. I've done strength training, Zumba, HIIT workouts, and yoga. I am eating when I'm hungry to fuel my body and not out of boredom. I'm taking note of my emotions, and journaling my feelings, and checking in with myself. I'm grateful that I can work from home, take time to journal, and spend time with God seeking His will and desire during this time. How about you?
Counting your blessings and practicing gratitude in the midst of overwhelm may just be the remedy you need. It is by no means a quick fix, but more so a way of living. Sweet friend, sis, sista girl take time to begin your gratitude practice today. And let me know how it goes for you. I'd love to hear from you!