Do I have a grateful heart?

gratitude

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day! It is that day set aside for us to gather as families, create good memories, remember those good times of the past, eat good food, and express our thanks for the people and blessings in our lives. It is a day also to ask ourselves the question, “Do I have a grateful heart?”

Sure, it is easy to stop and count our blessings. It is easy to be thankful. However, being thankful isn’t enough. I’m reminded of a quote:

“Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts.”                                                                                 – Henri Frederic Amiel

As Amiel states, thankfulness is good, but it can be silent. That silent, inner appreciation we often express is good, but it is only the start. Having gratitude, or a grateful heart, is more than words… it is a series of acts… a life of action… a life of serving… a life of loving others.

So, do I have a grateful heart? To answer that question, I think we all need to take an honest look at what motivates us. I would argue that if a person is motivated by what they can gain, what the world owes them, by their net worth, or by their status, position, or power, then that person does not have a grateful heart.

On the other hand, a life that can be seen expressing gratitude through their actions toward others, is a life that exhibits a grateful heart. A grateful heart…

  • Serves those that could never pay them back
  • Thinks of others before self
  • Seeks ways to add value or to make life better for others
  • Expresses the abundance of a grateful heart by giving
  • Freely gives of their time
  • Can pause from their busy life to enjoy the beauty of the world we’ve been given
  • Is saddened by injustice, but is motivated by it to stand up for others
  • Treats others with respect… all the time
  • Lifts others with a continuously outreached hand
  • Can laugh at themselves
  • Is not distracted by minor irritations, but is driven to achieve good in every circumstance
  • Recognizes that good friends are more valuable than gold
  • Cherishes good memories of loved ones now gone
  • Recognizes that all good things come from a God that loves us

So, tomorrow, as you gather with friends and family to enjoy this day set aside to express our thanks, let’s remember that the output of that thanks should be a life that freely exhibits gratitude. Our thankful hearts should give rise to our grateful hearts.

And, as you enjoy the hustle and bustle of the day, pause to etch it into your memory. For there is a day coming when you would give anything to have it back… just one more time.

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”                                                                 – Robert Brault

Happy Thanksgiving Day! Enjoy it and let it spawn a grateful heart in each of us.

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When is it time to let go?

leaves

Recently, I have had some extended time sitting in the woods on beautiful autumn mornings. I simply love this time of year and sitting in the quiet, watching the world of nature around me, is one of the best ways I know to spend time. The colors of the leaves, the deep blue of the sky, and the freshness of the air make living all the more worthwhile.

The other morning, the temperature was crisp, the sunrise beautiful, and the wind was calm. This was probably the first really cold day in that area. But, on this morning there came a time that the leaves on the trees started falling like rain. It appeared that all the leaves were just waiting for such a time as that… a wonderful, sunny, crisp morning… to relinquish their hold and relish the fact that they had accomplished another year of purpose. On this morning, I actually was able to hold my eye on one individual leaf and watch it “let go” and fall to the ground. It was fascinating!

This experience made me wonder how the leaves really know when it is time to “let go.” Yet, it seems they always know the perfect timing. Why is it that we often have such a difficult time letting go of some of the things we should? What are some of those things?

Well, here is a short list of things we should freely “let go”:

  1. Hurts from the past
  2. Worries about tomorrow
  3. Burdens that we simply cannot control
  4. That schedule that allows no time to really live
  5. Trying to organize, shape, or manage the lives of others
  6. Perfectionism
  7. Activities that provide no value

However, there are a few things we should never let go… things that we should “hold on to”:

  1. People that care about you
  2. Hope, optimism, and enthusiasm for the future
  3. Making a difference for someone else each day
  4. Doing the right things in the right way
  5. Love
  6. An appreciation for the beauty around us
  7. Knowledge that there is a God that loves us and cares about us

A leaf never holds on longer than is needed. Neither should we. However, we must hold firm to those things and people that give meaning and purpose to our lives. These things make life worth living.

So, today, no matter if you are hurting, happy, desperate, discouraged, enthused, engaged, depressed, or dynamic… think about those things that you are holding and ask, “Which of these should I allow to go? What must I grip even harder?” Then, do what you need to do.

Remember, this could be your very best day yet! We never know when that day might come. So, look for it today and savor it when it comes!