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Growth and Gratitude

Growth is a process

Week of Monday, September 6th- September 13th

In today's culture we hear a lot about self-improvement, growth and gratitude. Gratitude journals. 10 things you are grateful for. Gratitude enhances mood and happiness. Becoming You. Living your best life. Growing your business. Improving your mindset and so on and so on.

We can seek growth in a variety of ways in so many aspects of our lives: Am I wanting to grow in self-discipline and exercise more or drink less coffee? Do I want to grow in my skills like marketing, public speaking, gardening or cooking? Do I want to grow my relationship with my significant other? Do I want to grow my bank account or grow in my profession? We get so many messages, flooding our brains with quick 10- step guides or suggestions, or better yet whole references or textbooks and courses, to improve and grow. But gratitude plays a huge role in our growth, and nothing worth it comes too too easily.

One straightforward definition of gratitude is the "quality of being thankful with a readiness to show appreciation." Who and what are we grateful for? How do we show this? Is thankfulness listing out a few things I'm thankful for or is it a state of being?

Without growth, it is hard to be grateful. Maybe you've been working for a couple years at a job anticipating this promotion, and you feel rundown and underappreciated. Are you still thankful? Without gratitude, growth is also hard.

I've come to learn that gratitude is a sort of peace. It doesn't mean difficult things don't come our way, but with a grateful heart, it's easier to face them and take pride in and enjoy every process we go through. How can we be grateful for the mundane things? For example, as a teacher, I used to have to complete education plans and testing accommodation forms for all my students. It was a stressful time during standardized testing, and I would much rather be teaching my students, but it was an essential part of my job. And yet, when you have so much to do, so many stressors running in your mind, it's hard to be fully present at every turn and every moment. Instead of being bogged down about it, sometimes I would slow down and tell myself, "Wow, these kids are receiving what they need. It's my job to make sure they get what they need. If I make a mistake, someone might miss out on the opportunity to show all that he or she knows." So maybe, practicing gratitude isn't so much recognizing or listing out the ways we are "blessed" or "healthy" or "fortunate", but a state of being through which we can manifest growth and joy. Every activity, no matter how small or big, has a purpose and significance in our lives.

By challenging ourselves to appreciate circumstances, things, and people, we can effectively grow ourselves in all aspects of our lives. We will be better at solving problems from a clear angle, we will be more understanding of others and/or our significant other, and we will exercise greater self-control and fulfillment in what we are doing or hope to accomplish.

I consider myself a thankful, prayerful person, but I am constantly working on being fully present at all turns and situations week by week. Because isn't being present and appreciating the exact moment we're in the true meaning of gratitude?

This week, meditate and reflect on these verses and God bless you:

Psalm 107:21-22

Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind. Let them sacrifice thank offerings and tell of his works with songs of joy.

Colossians 4:2

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

Philippians 4:6-7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

James 1:3

Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace]

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