Intersection of Life and Faith

10 Tips for Training Your Heart to Be More Grateful

  • Michelle Lazurek
10 Tips for Training Your Heart to Be More Grateful

As someone who grew up in a pessimistic household, I quickly adopted my parents’ way of thinking. No matter what happened in my life, I always looked on the negative side of things, spinning them in such a way that I came out the perpetual loser. It wasn’t until I came to know the Lord and He began to work in my life that I realized God lived a life of gratitude, even during his persecution and death. God wanted me to be thankful in all things as well. But how could I change my attitude after living as a pessimist for so long? Here are 10 things I learned about how to live a life of gratitude:

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  • Forgive Often

    Forgive Often

    Slide 1 of 10

    One of the quickest ways to change a good attitude into a bad one is to let sin take root in our hearts. We all sin, but it is what we do with it that matters. When we confess our sin, God is just to forgive through Christ’s atoning sacrifice. But when we need to forgive someone else and clearly have not, it festers in our souls, blocking out the opportunity to remain joyful and grateful in our circumstances.

    Take a moment and ask the Lord to check your heart. Ask Him to reveal anyone whom you need to forgive. Don’t filter the list or make the excuse that you’ve already forgiven someone. Take the time to really forgive, and then reflect on how you feel after. Has your attitude changed? You may feel lighter now that your heart is free to be grateful again. 

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  • Forgive Often

    Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

    Slide 2 of 10

    Not only was I a perpetual loser in life (or so I portrayed myself) but also a perpetual worrier. Even the most insignificant event in life I turned into a major issue. This affected my thoughts and perceptions. As I’ve matured in my faith, I’ve had to let go of a lot of things beyond my control.

    This, in turn, has increased my faith: if I’m open-handed about things in my life, God is free to take circumstances that are beyond my control and use them for His glory. The more I choose to let go, the more my faith increases as I learn to trust the Lord. 

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  • Forgive Often

    Consider it All Joy

    Slide 3 of 10

    Scripture says, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4). If I’m honest, this is a hard pill to swallow. How do I turn even the most difficult circumstance (the death of a loved one, the loss of a home, etc.) into a joyful one?

    Whether Christians or non-Christians, we all suffer difficulties in this life. But it is our reaction to those situations that gives God glory. I can choose to wallow in self-pity about my circumstances, or I can trust in God, knowing He is a good God who wants to give good gifts to His children.

    When I am in a tough situation, I ask myself, “What Is God trying to teach me through this? What fruit of the spirit is He cultivating in my life?” Knowing that God is not wasting my pain gives me peace that He is in control. I can view it as a good gift rather than believing that God has let me down. 

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  • Forgive Often

    Start a Gratitude Journal

    Slide 4 of 10

    I have trouble journaling (ironic, since I’m a writer, right?). Yet, there is great power in writing God’s revelations on paper. God knows this: that’s why He chose His prophets and disciples to record His activities for generations to read and know He is God.

    In a gratitude journal, I don’t necessarily have to write in complete sentences. I can use bullet points and make lists of the good things I have in my life. When I do this for a few days in a row, my attitude shifts from negativity and self-pity to positivity and contentment. There is power in the written word. Not only have I given God glory by thanking Him for every blessing, but I also have a record to look back on for years to come. 

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  • Forgive Often

    Memorize the Word

    Slide 5 of 10

    It is one thing to read the Word; it is quite another to etch the Word on your heart through memorization. Write your favorite verses about keeping your eyes on Jesus and learning to be content in all things on note cards, and display them in prominent places around your home (preferably in places you frequent often). On the fridge, on the bathroom mirror, and on the car’s dashboard are three great spots.

    Review them and recite them to yourself throughout the day. This will help you renew your mind, emptying out the negative thoughts and replacing them with the words of God. 

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  • Forgive Often

    Connect to the Lord

    Slide 6 of 10

    Jesus says we must abide in God because apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). When you are constantly communing with God, you can’t help but trust in Him. It’s tough to take your eyes off of Jesus when you are intentionally fixing your gaze on Him.

    Read the word, pray, listen, journal, fast. When you are following the Lord, it is much harder to be led astray. 

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  • Forgive Often

    Serve Others

    Slide 7 of 10

    Nothing changes a selfish, negative attitude more than taking the focus off yourself and placing it on others. Furthermore, getting to know people whose situations are different from our own changes our perspective. When your view is limited to your own problems, you see the world through a microscope.

    Broaden your perspective. There are many volunteer opportunities in your community; you just have to look. Volunteer at a local food pantry or soup kitchen. Open your church doors to the needy. Jesus promised that the poor will always be with us (Matthew 26:11). We only need to open our eyes to find them. Serving others will change your attitude from discontentment to gratitude. 

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  • Forgive Often

    Don’t Compare

    Slide 8 of 10

    Comparison is the enemy of gratitude because you’re constantly looking at what other people have to see how you measure up. Keep your eyes focused on the blessings in your life, not the person next door or the latest post on your social media feed. Satan uses discontentment to derail your spiritual growth. God wants us to be content with the gifts He gives in the way He chooses. Ignore what others have. Focus on what you have. 

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  • Forgive Often

    Give Generously

    Slide 9 of 10

    In addition to volunteering your time, parting ways with your money will also change your attitude. It’s no shock that Jesus spoke a lot about money, specifically saying that it is hard to see the Kingdom when we hold so tightly to it. So what’s the remedy for the sickness of greed?

    Be generous with your money, looking for what needs you can meet in the lives of people God has placed in your life. When we part ways with something that gives us a false sense of security, we are forced to cling to God instead. 

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  • Forgive Often

    Take Baby Steps

    Slide 10 of 10

    If you are someone who has been negative for most of your life, the idea of becoming more grateful may be daunting. But you have the ability to make one choice each day which can, over the course of weeks or months, retrain your brain.

    Be grateful for one thing each day: the clothes on your back, a recent promotion, or a full fridge. As you begin to count your blessings, you may find yourself counting more and more every day.

    Being grateful is easier said than done. But like everything else in life, it is possible with the right perspective and help from the Lord. When we retrain our brains to see the world as an unending supply of good gifts from the Lord, we (and our souls) will benefit.

    Michelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife and mother. She is a regular contributor for ibelieve.com and crosswalk.com and is a movie reviewer for Movieguide Magazine. She also is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services. When not working, she enjoys sipping a Starbucks latte, collecting 80s memorabilia and spending time with her family and her crazy dog, Cookie. For more info, please visit her website www.michellelazurek.com.

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