Learning Contentment by Cultivating Gratitude

by on September 6, 2014

Over the past few weeks I have begun noticing a spirit of discontentment, both in the world around me and in myself.  I don’t know if it has to do with the beginning of the school season, the ending of summer, or just a shift in society and the way we view life.
The latest example being airline flights having to be diverted because of passenger scuffles over the ability to recline their seats.  A new gadget is being marketed that disables the seat in front of you from reclining.
Now, I’m not here to debate the right or wrong of airplane seating, but I do want to call to mind something we all can get wrapped up in-feeling entitled.  Lately, society seems to foster the attitude of I’m worth it at all costs with no regard to the cost of others. I wonder if the attitude of seeing ourselves as being worth more than others is because we feel lacking in some area of our lives.
Jesus is teaching me to live a contented life style by practicing gratitude for the daily ways He provides for me. In Philippians 4:11-12, Paul writes on how he learned the secret to being content in all circumstances.  So contentment can be learned, but how do we go about doing that.
Learning contentment takes practice.  Sometimes it’s a tilling of the soil of our soul, rooting out the worldly desires that bombard us daily and learning to be content with the ways God provides for us each day.  Most times it is learning to see ourselves with a godly perspective. And daily I think it involves learning to be grateful for the day we have been given from the Lord.
I am learning to develop my gratitude muscles on a daily basis. To choose to see my life for all the ways God provides for me and my family.  It’s through my words and actions that I can display gratitude and contentment to those I encounter each day.  I am learning that sometimes, it can be a difficult process. But, I am also learning to look to Jesus as my example on how to live each day not with an earthly perspective but with a heavenly perspective.
One of my favorite verses is “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24)  Being glad in our present circumstances, whether stuck in traffic, jammed on an airplane, or waiting in line at the grocery store.  Look for ways to be grateful in our immediate circumstances.  Stuck in traffic-listen to christian music, praising God for having a car and someplace to go.  Stuck in an airplane-praise God you didn’t have to drive across the country to get where you’re going.  In line at the grocery store-pray for those around you.
I’ve been asking myself, what are some ways I can better cultivate an attitude of gratitude? Here are some of my ideas. Start a gratitude journal praising God for the ways He has provided for me today.  Take a walk, praising God for the beauty in nature.  Read my bible looking for how Christ followers through the generations have cultivated gratitude in their lives.  Serve others. Smile at someone each day. Practice the art of gratitude.
There are many ways to grow in the spirit of gratitude.  It does take a conscious effort some days, but living in a state of discontent, just draws us further away from God. That is something I am not willing to let happen. For me, the best way to grow in gratitude is to serve others or take a walk. I’ve also learned that I can pray for contentment in my current circumstances and when I do, the Holy Spirit always lightens my mind and opens my heart to gratefulness.
How do you cultivate gratitude in your life? I would love to hear what works best for you.
Learning to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18), can take a little practice, but the nearer we draw to God, the easier it is to be grateful and become content.

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I would have to agree that taking a walk is a great way to connect with God – the ‘alone time’ allows me to reflect on what’s going on in my life and helps me to concentrate on thanking Him for what I’m so blessed with. There’s just something about the ‘blood flow’ involved with walking that helps me to be ‘clear headed’. I also use this time to pray for others and ask for guidance. oxo

To cultivate gratitude, I pray when I wake up, “Thank you Lord, for waking me this day, and giving me breath & life.” It helps me remember how grateful I am that I can see, hear, smell, and that I have legs and arms that work.

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