A farmer contemplates in Tanzania

What does it take to be thankful?

Imagine what gratitude looks like at its most intense level

There’s no real way to measure who the most grateful person in the world must be, but can you imagine what life must look like for that person? A deep appreciation for practically everything and an overflow of joy towards life.

It’s probably easy to imagine all the other values that extend from that person, from more generosity to a kind and patient spirit. If we can imagine all these effects of extreme gratitude, it probably makes us want to cultivate more gratitude within ourselves.

But what does it take to get there? What is required to be a more grateful person?

It certainly isn’t an easy life or an abundance of luxury. There are all kinds of examples of people who seem to have it all but lack the basic sense of contentment one might expect. On the other hand, there are many people who have really modest lives but extreme gratefulness.

So what is it? Philippians 4:11&12 remind us that gratitude isn’t tied to circumstances. Paul writes “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”

A grateful heart overflows
A grateful heart overflows

Our partners show us how a grateful heart overflows

Somebody like Dieula in Haiti reminds us what gratitude looks like. She can’t get through her story without thanking so many people and actors who have helped her along the way, as she and her family grew out of poverty.

Now she seeks to pass that help on towards others, gifting her neighbors and community with seedlings and livestock to help them give their farms a boost.

She truly embodies some of the more noteworthy byproducts of gratitude- generosity and an orientation towards others.

Talking about giving out of a spirit of thankfulness can seem almost cliché- until you see it in person. Truly, taking nothing for granted helps you realize the value of an opportunity to help another person. While what you have may be simple, to another person it can be a real difference maker.

Gratitude also helps erode our fixation on ourselves. As we remind ourselves that nobody is truly a self-made person, but we all rely on God’s provision and help from others, we displace the temptations of pride and self-centeredness. All the more reason to seek gratitude.

A Grateful heart takes nothing for granted
A Grateful heart takes nothing for granted

So how do you actually do it?

It’s easy to only talk about the benefits of gratitude without giving any real pointers. How do you learn to take something that feels like an emotional response and turn it into a natural state? Can you strengthen gratitude like a muscle?

We believe there are a few things that help.

First- being in touch with how blessed we are, especially at a global scale, helps emphasize the reality of our condition. It can be easy to compare ourselves to others who seem to have it better, but it’s important to make an effort to “zoom out” more often.

Also- taking the time to notice things does wonders for cultivating gratitude. In the course of daily life, it can be so easy to get caught up on daily demands and “all-that-needs-to-get-done” that we simply miss a lot of opportunities to be grateful for little things. Building in disciplines and practices that help you notice these can help.

Finally- gratitude takes nothing for granted. Always remember the things that are your “real riches-” family, community, etc., and appreciate the unique way you wound up with them.

As an organization, we simply just want to take the chance to say thank you for being with us and being partners in our mission. We could not do any of the things we do without you.

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