John F. Kennedy once said,
As we express our gratitude, we must not forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
But what exactly does this mean?
While it’s great to feel thankful for the wonderful things we have in our lives—blessings such as a spouse or significant other who loves us even when we’re not our best, a child who was able to overcome a drug or alcohol issue, or simply the mere fact that we woke up this morning and were able to get out of bed—well, that’s just not enough.
We must also engage in actions that show that we are truly grateful for these things in our lives we consider blessings. In short, we must master the art of gratitude. Here’s how.
Live “As If”
It’s one thing to say that you’re thankful for your health, but another to live as if you are truly grateful for the ability to walk or to be free from a chronic health condition or disease. The first involves merely being appreciative while the second means treating your body in a way that shows it that you understand the gift you’ve been given and are willing to do your part to keep that blessing going.
So, thinking about the things you’re grateful for, ask yourself whether you are living with gratitude toward them. Put another way, are you honoring the blessings in your life as fully as you possibly can, or are you living in a way that takes them for granted? If your answer is the latter, you can begin to master the art of gratitude by living as if you truly appreciate the things you say that you’re grateful for.
For example, if you’re grateful for your health, show it by feeding your body nutritious foods and helping it stay fit with regular exercise. If you’re grateful for your spouse, show it by being appreciative when they do things for you versus griping at them for all of the things they don’t do.
Hold Daily Blessing Sessions
It is super easy to get so caught up in running your life, in meeting work deadlines and handling family obligations, that you forget about the many ways in which you are blessed. Yet, one way to constantly remind yourself of all of the good things going on in your world is to hold daily blessing sessions.
Set aside 5-10 minutes every day and name the top three to five things you are thankful for at that given time. Either say them out loud or write them down, fully acknowledging them.
If you have a family or live with a roommate or significant other, hold these sessions together as a way to remind each other that no matter how bad things may seem at the moment, you still have a lot to be thankful for.
Send Letters of Gratitude
Imagine going to your mailbox and finding a letter inside from someone you know or used to know, thanking you for the positive impact you’ve had on their life. Can you envision how much those words would make your heart sing? Living a life of gratitude means making sure those sentiments are shared.
Think of all of the people that, if you knew you were going to not be here tomorrow, you’d want to thank today. Each week, send at least one of these individuals a letter of gratitude. Without a doubt, just placing them in the mail will make your heart swell too.