Gratitude: how do it and why it matters

One chaotic Saturday, amidst lunchtime cartoons with macaroni and cheese, my toddler was drowsy from swim class. On the other hand, I was bustling around at a breakneck pace, preparing for a party we were hosting later in the evening.

I felt my daughter’s tiny eyes on me. My shoulders tensed; I waited for her to ask me to cook her something else, open a snack, fix a sock, or change a channel. “Mom,” she said in a calm and measured tone, “I’m thankful for you.” With that, she turned her focus back to her show, completely unaware that she had just rocked my world.

Choking back tears, I turned to my husband, who had witnessed the whole thing. How could this child with no actual life experience approach something complex like gratitude as if it was simple?

It was like gratitude was her natural reaction. She saw someone she loved, she felt flutters in her heart, and she reacted to what she felt with reservation.

It sometimes feels cliche to talk about gratitude. Yet, even though we are aware of it, we aren't good at doing it. Gratitude: it’s like leafy greens and getting 8 hours of sleep. We know why it’s essential, so why are we making it so hard?

Gratitude opposes inadequacy

Society is an expert at throwing our shortcomings in our faces, even when they aren’t justified. Companies profit off self-doubt. Intentional gratitude opposes this by saying, “Yes, but what I have is enough.” It casts light on what we already have, leaving our perceived shortcomings in the shadows. Observing what is already good, instead of identifying what could be better, is a practical first step to a thankful heart posture.

Gratitude isn’t complicated

Life moves fast. If something isn’t urgent, it is overshadowed. It’s easy to skip breakfast before a long commute, skip stretching before a work-out, and pass-up water for more coffee. In ignoring what is simple yet impactful, we cheat ourselves of a stable base.

Simply put, “thankful” is defined as “expressing gratitude and relief.” How beautiful the concept of gratitude becomes if we imagine going beyond the surface level, actually telling someone, “I am so relieved you are here. I need you.”

Gratitude takes practice

It is counter-cultural to acknowledge that having what we need is having enough. Like many people, and maybe like you, gratitude is not a habit for me. In this, journaling seems like a logical starting point.

In the long run, I would prefer if I didn’t have to add thankfulness to a list of daily task, next to laundry and emails. But I need a place to start. When gratitude becomes my natural reaction in everyday life, that is when I will know that the mind-shift I am aiming for has happened.

When I look at all of the simple blessings in my daily life, the risk of missing out on truly experiencing this beautiful existence too great. As the world has left me worn out and soggy, my heart automatically shuns the tendency to play the victim of exhaustion.

I’m busy, but so is everyone else.

There is always time to be thankful, and there is endlessly something to be grateful for.


This post originally appeared on

It was used with permission and modifications

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