Deliberate Gratitude

By Rev. Lana Charlton

Deliberate is a powerful word when put into action. You can be deliberate in moving forward, stalling, even going backwards. Deliberate means intentional action. Using the power and practice of intention—with deliberation—creates a great full (grateful) life.

How deliberate is your awareness of the gifts that surround you every day? The Nigerian Hausa put it this way: Give thanks for a little and you will find a lot.

A power failure, even for a moment of time, gets your attention. There is a collective “Thank God” when the power is returned. Yet how long before you take it for granted again? Do you say “thank you” every time you turn on your electricity or have you already forgotten? Often we miss the gifts of our daily lives, until we are suddenly deprived of them. In fact many of us curse situations that turn out as blessings in disguise.

One day I realized that my intention to be present to the good in my life had lost its deliberateness. Instead of being free and liberated, I felt stuck. What was radically different in my life? Deliberate gratitude! “For to him who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” (Matthew 13:12 RSV) The very good right before my eyes had been “taken away” because I was focusing on “not having.”   

“To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven,” poet Johannes A. Gaertner once wrote. Haven't you been told that heaven is in the midst of you? As you practice finding and seeing the good in life, you begin to live gratitude, and it becomes you. With practice your attitude will naturally see the marvel and wonder of life in you and around you. Your attitude will naturally move to gratitude because you now live it in the moment.

Author Merry Browne writes, “You know you're old when you've lost all your marvels.” The insightful comedian George Carlin said it best: “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” When was the last time you were so awed with life and living that your breath was taken away?

Have you ever met a joyful person not filled with gratitude? Have you ever met a truly miserable person that was grateful? Have you ever tested speaking, acting, and living deliberate gratitude?

Join with me and millions of others who will refocus the lens of their daily life with great deliberation and intention to see how blessed we are. Challenge yourself and go deep. You just might find how rich you really are!

Rev. Lana Charlton is the senior minister at Unity Gateway Church, Coral Springs, Florida, and writes for numerous worldwide, national and local publications.