Gratitude – Who, What and When

One of the most destructive, unhealthy habits is chronic complaining. Complainers are “when and then” people. When this happens…then I’ll be happy. When that happens…then I’ll be grateful. But “when and then” doesn’t work because there is always a new “when.”

Throw the “when and then” mindset out the window and embrace a better way of thinking about gratitude  – who, what and when.


When something good happens, we may feel fortunate, excited and happy but we don’t always connect the dots and recognize the source of the good that has come our way. Feeling fortunate is not the same as being grateful.  Becoming a grateful person requires you to understand these three elements:

  • The beneficiary – the person who receives a good gift
  • The benefit – the good that has come
  • The benefactor – the giver of the gift

Gratitude acknowledges there is a source. God is the benefactor. God gives gifts and he also uses the people around us to pour out benefits. We are the beneficiaries.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17 NIV


Give thanks for gifts of every size – small, medium and large. Thank God for miracles and breakthroughs. Thank him for the big things that display his power and strength. But don’t disdain the small. Get out your magnifying glass and search like Sherlock Holmes for small gifts to be grateful for. When you offer gratitude for seeming insignificant, ordinary things you unlock the secret to living with great joy.


There is never a wrong time to be grateful. We all go through different seasons in life and in every single one of them we can give thanks.


You don’t have to look very hard to find things to complain about. But let’s face it, when we complain we just get grumpier. Our glass moves from half empty to dry as a bone. Complaints are like fingernails on the chalkboard of life. Instead of complaining open your eyes and search for just one good gift. Feel God’s gracious benefits and give voice to your gratitude.

  • Who? – God
  • What?  – In everything
  • When? – Always

One act of thanksgiving, when things go wrong with us, is worth a thousand thanks when things are agreeable to our inclinations. — Saint John of Avila


This is the fourth part in a series
Click here for the third part Make a Daily Gratitude List
Click here for the second part Gratitude Destroys Joy Killers
Click here for the first part The Year of Gratitude