One day I heard this passage and it nagged at me. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Yes, I want to go to there! Who wouldn’t want to feel awesome? I just did not see the path forward.
I had always thought emotions were wild beasts and I tried to control them through sheer willpower. Unfortunately, research has shown willpower is a finite resource (and I was good at depleting it). This meant in times of stress, I was less than my healthy self and the fruit of the Spirit would feel out of reach.
Fortunately, I stumbled upon the practice of gratitude. Gratitude is both an emotion and a practice. Emotions are mental shortcuts, and in any given moment whatever emotions are the fastest dictate how we react. With the practice of gratitude, I learned that I could trigger my positive emotions and, over time, be less triggered by my negative ones. Neuroscientists are now catching up to what spiritual leaders have long known. Gratitude rewires your brain through your heart.
The practice is simple. Notice good. There is goodness everywhere, if you look for it. Gratitude makes visible what you value. Conversely, we make invisible what we take for granted. Learning to pause and notice the good in your life is transformative. As the poet Mary Oliver said, “attention is the beginning of devotion.”
I have learned that we can all choose love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. This is about taking small steps to give thanks everyday. Giving becomes receiving because before you know it, you will be far down the path of gratitude with the fruit of the Spirit all around you.
It’s the month of Thanksgiving. Try giving thanks for three things for 30 days. Here’s the recipe for creating a successful new habit – Reminder. Routine. Reward. Create a daily reminder in your calendar or after you drink your first cup of coffee. Make a simple routine (journal, text, letter). Feel the reward of a healthier you.
Omar Brownson, Co-Founder and CEO, gthx
Omar is an entrepreneur, civic leader, speaker and student of gratitude. He is the co-founder and CEO of the gratitude app gthx. Omar is also a leader-in-residence at the software company NationBuilder. He’s a frequent speaker and has been quoted in publications including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Los Angeles Times. Previously, Omar was the founding executive director of RiverLA and has held leadership positions across finance, real estate, and social impact. Wherever he is, however, Omar makes sure to take a beat to appreciate the good in his life.