Cultivating a Heart of Gratitude in an Unthankful World

Written by Kristen, Contributing Writer

With Thanksgiving around the corner, many of us turn our hearts towards gratitude. We focus on being thankful for our loved ones, perhaps our home, or the food on our plate. It’s a wonderful time!

However, have you noticed how hard it is to keep that heart of gratitude year round? When turkey, mashed potatoes, and dressing are a thought from the past, it is so easy to get caught up in the unthankfulness of the world! But after all that God has done for us, shouldn’t we do our part to cultivate a heart of gratitude in this unthankful world every day of our lives? I think so!

Cultivating a Heart of Gratitude in an Unthankful World @

A Tiny Home and Ma Ingalls

Years ago, I learned a very real  lesson in thankfulness and contentment. My husband and I found ourselves stuck in a tiny, two-bedroom house that lost 40% of its value since we bought it. We were expecting our third baby and seemed to see no way out of this teeny piece of real estate. When I looked at our situation, I simply couldn’t believe that God would allow us to be stuck there when my husband and I had dedicated our lives to serving Him!

(Psst. Did you catch that? Yep, I had some pretty wrong thinking. God doesn’t owe us anything!)

Around that time I started doing some gentle homeschooling, and part of it was reading out loud to my children. Having never read Little House on the Prairie, that was one of my first choices, and Ma Ingalls became my hero.

I read about Ma cooking over a fire with a couple of pans. Hauling water from a stream to wash dishes. Making beds in the back of a wagon and laying washed bedding out on the prairie grasses to dry. Wearing the same dress every. single. day.

Then I looked at my closet kitchen and saw hot water that I didn’t have to heat, an oven that didn’t require a fire, and a refrigerator full of perishable foods kept cold. I saw my washing machine and dryer that cleaned my clothes with a turn of a knob. I heard the furnace kick on with no effort on my part.

And I realized that I had been extremely unthankful.

Changing My Thoughts to Thankful Ones

Once I realized how ungrateful I had been, I made efforts to become more thankful.

  • When I ran into the open oven door in our small kitchen, I thanked the Lord that I could freely cook and bake without having to start a fire.
  • When I felt trapped inside a small house, I thanked Him for plumbing, sanitation, and hot water.
  • When I started to wonder if we’d ever get out, I thanked God for the multitude of comforts that our home afforded, like a love seat, warm bed, and bookshelves.

I also realized that I needed to repent for being so ungrateful for the many blessings God had given us in our small home, and also for allowing thoughts of entitlement to take root in my mind. Ma Ingalls woke me up to just how good God had been to us, even in our little house!

Choosing a Heart of Gratitude

In hard times, and sometimes in every day life, it can be a challenge to keep a heart of gratitude. I would guess that for most of us, it does’t come naturally. Rather, by nature, we are selfish and sinful, and we need the Lord to shape our hearts and minds into grateful ones.

How can we cultivate a heart of gratitude in an unthankful world?

  • Find something to be thankful for in life’s inconveniences. Stuck in traffic? Thank God for a working vehicle! Appliance break? Thank God for all the times it has worked! Up late with a teething baby? Thank God that your child is otherwise healthy!
  • Get a bigger perspective. When we take a step back, many of our first-world problems pale in comparison to the challenges faced by those in less developed countries. How many of us have clean water, working plumbing, ample foods, heated homes, and access to basic medical care? We are incredibly wealthy!
  • Put it on paper. Do you know the little song that goes “Count your blessings, name them one by one! Count your blessings, see what God has done!” When I started to list out the innumerable blessings God had given us in our little home, I felt so ashamed tat I had been so ungrateful! Forcing ourselves to recognize the blessings we take for granted can do much to cultivate thankfulness!

Do you find that you have to make efforts to be thankful? Have you learned a lesson in gratefulness like I did?

About Kristen

Kristen is a Christian, wife to her high school sweetheart, and mother to a growing brood of sweet little people. She spends her days keeping the home, homeschooling, making real food, gardening, blogging, and working from home as a Lilla Rose Consultant. You can find her at Smithspirations and on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.


  1. Excellent post. Thanks for sharing. I have found, and have had friends confirm, that simply taking the time at the end of each day to write down at least one thing that you were thankful for was very uplifting. Sometimes it is so important to remind ourselves of the abundant blessings the Lord gives to each of us.

    • That’s a great tip, Pam!
      As a family, we do a Bible time together before bed, and that would be a great time to share something we are thankful for every night!

  2. Whenever I start to think my house is too small, I remember that just one bedroom in my house would be a house to most people in the world who even have houses! It helps to keep things in perspective. The only reason we usually think we need a bigger house, us not for people, but for our stuff! A tent would take care of the people.

    We have much to be thankful for! Thank you for reminding us!


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