Wife to my high school sweetheart, boy mama to sweet baby boy Macrae, and two fur babies Shiloh and Milo, a full time high school history teacher, and overall enthusiast for life. Avid podcast listener, iced coffee drinker, and organized chaos manager. My passion is to encourage and inspire. To cultivate an intentional life, a life full of joy and an abundance of grace.
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Anyone else feel like they often overcomplicate things? Or maybe overthinking things is more your style? What if we could approach more of life with simplicity? Focus our thoughts more simply, our hearts, our minds. There is power in the simple. And purpose. As so much of our conversations shift to thankfulness and gratitude this holiday season, I believe there is an incredibly simple and easy way to cultivate gratitude, that we often don’t do, because well, we complicate things and over think things through. But no more of that – because today I am sharing the simple & easy way to cultivate a heart of gratitude.
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Happy Thanksgiving week. I love this week so much. It has always brought so much joy to my heart. Whether I was in grade school, college, an adult, as a mom, I have always loved the week of Thanksgiving. We are going to enjoy so much quality time as a family this week and I truly hope you are able to spend time this week with your loved ones. That you are able to spend more purposeful moments and intentional moments this week.
Today’s message is simple and sweet. One quick and easy way to cultivate a heart of gratitude for the month of November and beyond. Simple and easy ways to allow thankfulness and a state of gratitude to live in your heart. That this state of gratitude can reside in your heart and overpower and overcome and overflow to all these other areas of your life.
Society and the world tells us so often to just be thankful, to practice gratitude. When you practice gratitude and practice thankfulness, we are conditioned in our brains to be thankful for what we have. To be thankful for the things that are going well. Thankful for even when the things aren’t going well, to be thankful for the things that we do have that is solid. The things that are still standing.
However, when we focus on those things, we miss out. There is MORE that we can really dive into and there is MORE power and MORE empowerment for a heart full of gratitude that we aren’t fully buying into.
Big word person over here, so I think it is wise to look at the definitions and meanings of words here. The definition of thankful according to Google is to be full and appreciative of things that have happened. A complete confirmation of what the world tells us. That we are to be thankful for what we have and the things that have happened and are going well.
Next, the definition of gratitude comes from the Latin word gratus meaning pleasing or thankful – something that is good, something that is appreciated. Now, I like that. Focusing on what is good and being appreciative of it. It is so very important to appreciate the things in life. However, when we look at the definitions of gratitude and thankfulness we often focus on the results. We focus on being thankful for something that has happened.
But what if we shifted the focus – what if we instead focused on being thankful before the thing happens. Being thankful before the hard week is over. Expressing gratitude before the difficult season ends. Why not focus on being grateful and practicing gratitude in the midst of the messy. That is where the true blessing is!
If we are in the middle of a hard season, in the middle of a season where life is just heavy, why not THEN focus on thankfulness, and focusing on cultivating gratitude. Why not then choosing JOY in the things that we do have in the midst of the weight of the world.
Thankfulness and gratitude, it is so easy to say and so easy to do. Although, the actual art and the actual practice of it can be tricky sometimes, especially when we get caught up in all the things, trying to do all the things and knock everything off of our own personal lists. Unfortunately, we as humans have the tendency to get caught up in our own situation, focusing on our own personal needs. We are so busy that we resort to having to schedule in time for thankfulness and time for gratitude. Instead we write being thankful down on our list and then will check it off after we get there.
But we have it all wrong. We are focusing in on our own selfish desires. We are focusing in on us, us, and us. And resorting to thankfulness after the thing we want to have happen, happens. The real key to a heart full of gratitude, to hold on to and cling to through this season of life. If you want to cultivate a heart more of thankfulness and more gratitude, the secret is to shift the focus away from you!
Shift the focus away from you. Don’t focus on you. If you want to live a more gracious life, fix your lens. Focus on somebody else. Focus on others’ needs. Instead, turn your attention to showing up and serving in your community. Turning to your relationships. Pouring your heart and your soul into something bigger than you. Something that goes beyond your needs, but services a greater and wider array.
Focus on the world around you. Shift the focus away from you. When we can take our own desires, and ambitions, and instead reverse it and flip it and move outward, we can unlock a greater potential for us to feel and practice a heart full of gratitude. When you focus on others and take that focus away from you, it builds empathy. Empathy unlocks life changing momentum that moves in waves and is impactful to truly change the trajectory of so many things.
If we all took a moment and a second within each day to think as to how we can take our energy, our focus, and how can it be shifted towards something greater than I. How can I shift this away from me, away from my desires and focus on something else. That is where we are going to cultivate more gratitude by focusing on other situations and other things that your eyes are more aware of the world around you and your heart gains a greater appreciation and cultivating more gratitude for the things in your life.
The more that you focus on serving others, the more you shift that focus away from you. It doesn’t have to be a big grand gesture, instead just shifting that perspective. The more you shift away from you, the more you can unlock greater gratitude and appreciate where you are and where you are standing.
When you can live with this intention of thankfulness every single day, it allows you to be more present, to be in awe of the blessings around us, but also to be more aware of the true joy it is to be alive.
Friends, I want nothing more than your heart to feel encouraged. That if you are feeling heavy or things are hard, I want you to take it easy on yourself, slow things down, and sit a little longer in silence. And find something to hold on to in thankfulness all while in the messy and hard. The good news is one day the heavy, will not be heavy anymore. When you walk through that season where the sun is shiny and the days are happier, you will have even more layers of gratitude to unlock in your heart because you already started practicing this earlier on.
As you move through this week and anticipate all the amazing things of Thanksgiving, focus on shifting the attention away from you. What is one small way you can change the emphasis on you and instead focus it towards somebody else. As you practice gratitude, practice gratitude and being thankful for the things when they are messy and hard. To be able to unlock an even greater level and depth of gratitude in your heart, for when you finally overcome that season. Wishing you an amazing Thanksgiving. And so incredible thankful and grateful for you!