Christian · mental health

The muscle of gratitude

In a culture that actively works to provoke your dissatisfaction, developing the muscle of gratitude could be your most powerful means of freedom from perfectionism.‘ The Perfectionism Book


As a family, we hold hands and pray before mealtimes thanking God for the food He has provided. For a while, Small Boy would exclaim ‘Let’s eat!’ rather than ‘Amen’; the short prayer was a necessary preliminary before the important task of  enjoying eating. I’ve come to see that my attitude isn’t all that different.

Often I can feel envious of other people’s blessings; I can quickly become dissatisfied, ungrateful and yearn for ‘more’, ‘bigger’ and ‘better’.

My gratitude muscle clearly needs a work-out but how to get in shape? My exercise routine will start with:

  • Deliberately pausing before each meal to spend a moment saying ‘thank you’ regardless of how busy or hungry I am.
  • Writing in a ‘thankfulness book’ each evening at least one thing that day for which I am grateful.
  • Fostering an attitude of gratitude in all I do: from washing up to tidying away toys to going to the dentist.
  • Being thankful for who I am even though this does not come naturally.

Jennifer Kunst in her article ‘The antidote to envy‘ writes: ‘It is everyone’s challenge in life to do something with whatever they have, and the best way to do that is to see the good, be thankful for it, and do something useful with it.’

The journey out of perfectionism starts with a gentle acceptance of who I am and where I’ve been; to be at peace with my past, to come to terms with my weaknesses, and to recognise God’s fingerprints of grace in every stage and season. Thankfulness is at the heart of this self-acceptance.

A few years ago, there was a brief social media trend to establish your position in the global rich list. According to, I am in the top 0.42% richest people in the world by income. I have no justification to complain and every reason to be thankful – and my gratitude should lead to generosity. 

But what about when life is hard? In all honesty, it’s not that difficult for me to be grateful at the moment but I want to be someone who is marked by gratitude in every circumstance. Last week, I attended a memorial service of a 50-year-old Christian lady who had died of cancer. She’d written a letter to be read at the service in which she described some of the ‘God-incidences’ during her illness; she had learnt to look for ‘God in action’ even during times of great pain and suffering. My hope is to become someone who can see and be grateful for the ‘God-incidences’ in every stage of life, just as this inspirational lady did.

Right now, I am thankful for Lemsip, Calpol vapour plug-ins and grandparents who are willing to change plans to help.




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