How to Get Rid of Glass Half Empty Gratitude

How to Get Rid of Glass Half Empty Gratitude

I have an almost-teenager at my house which means sour attitudes float around here like pickles in a jar. My middle schooler is generally an optimist, but this stage of emotional development sometimes sabotages her sunny disposition. Phrases like “I will never…” and “it’s always…” transform temporary hardships into eternal absolutes. Hope flutters away as despair settles in. When her glass of perspective is half empty, it becomes near impossible to convince her it is actually half full.

As we near Thanksgiving Day, I usually start to form a gratitude list in my head. This year, however, I noticed each item on my mental list has an asterisk beside it. The pessimistic attitude that plagues my usually optimistic daughter also invades my heart.

I’m thankful for Jesus, but I can’t live up to his standard.

I am thankful for my husband, but marriage is always so much work.

I am thankful for my kids, but they never listen and I’m probably messing them up with my uncontrolled emotions.

I am thankful for my home, but everything is falling apart.

I am thankful for my job, but I’ll never be able to live out my dreams.

You get the picture. I suffer from a glass half empty gratitude. This is not the attitude I want to have when I sit down to a turkey dinner with my family. I want an asterisk-free list of things that inspire thanksgiving in my heart. My list focuses on present difficulties and is void of hope in the good things to come.


#Thanksgiving is a day for gratitude, but it is also a day for #hope.Click To Tweet

Thanksgiving is a day for gratitude, but it is also a day for hope.

Paul addresses the relationship between gratitude and hope in Romans 5:

And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (Rom. 5:2-5 NIV)

I can be thankful, even in hardship, because my future is based on God’s love, not on my perfection or the performance of my people. I may experience temporary hardships, but they do not alter my eternal absolutes. My hope is in Christ alone. “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Rom. 12:12 NIV).

I may experience temporary hardships, but they do not alter my eternal absolutes.Click To Tweet


I’m thankful for Jesus, who covers me with his righteousness.

I am thankful for my husband and the way he holds on even in the hard times.

I am thankful for my kids who are so full of life, joy, and grace. Parenting them makes me a better person.

I am thankful for my home—always comfortable, always enough.

I am thankful for a job that allows me the flexibility to pursue my passion.


This glass half full list takes a little discipline. It requires a shift in thinking from temporary comfort to eternal security. It means releasing despair and embracing hope. Hope can inspire gratitude for what is and what will be.

Hope can inspire #gratitude for what is and what will be. #thankfulClick To Tweet

I leave you with this prayer for a Thanksgiving full of hope:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 15:13 NIV)

How to Get Rid of Glass Half Empty Gratitude

#FridayFive Link Up

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#FridayFive Nov/Dec

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Recommended Resources

A Full Heart: Living a Thankful Life

Are you looking for a way to focus your family’s heart on gratitude? Download “A Full Heart: Living a Thankful Life” from All Mom Does for free here.


Photo credit: Maria via Unsplash.


  1. I’m in the middle school years as well! It is SO easy to jump on the emotional train with our kids. Love this list, I think I’m going to try having my kiddo list things he’s thankful for the next time he tailspins.

  2. I love your second list!
    I wonder if it could be possible to pretend that those asterisk clause thoughts are a hot potato that needs to be thrown down quickly and not held on to for long enough to harm ourselves and those we love.
    I think I’ll try it.

  3. I have one of those in my house! An almost-teenager complete with grumpy days and eternal absolutes. I also have a light-bearer who laughs from the bottom of his spirit – same child, different perspective. Thanks for reminding us of the importance of cultivating a “gratitude attitude”.

  4. Wonderful post! I can struggle with “glass half-empty gratitude”. This was really encouraging truth to remember! I loved this part in particular, “I can be thankful, even in hardship, because my future is based on God’s love, not on my perfection or the performance of my people. I may experience temporary hardships, but they do not alter my eternal absolutes.”

  5. You’re absolutely right. Anytime the word “but” is added, it negates what precedes it (i.e. “I love you, but you drive me crazy!”). We do that with the Lord. “Lord, I could do this, but…” “Lord, I’d love you more, but…” “Lord, I’d be happy, but…” Thanks for the reminder to keep the right kind of gratitude attitude!

  6. Kelly, what great eye opening post. I think many times we care pessimistic thoughts along with our thanks and we need to toss them. Love your improved list!

  7. sometimes i limit myself to just one word in my gratitude journal, to keep myself from adding too many limiting phrases. like “Protection” instead of “protection from the fires that continue to burn, despite the rain i prayed for.” and when i look at the one word, i realize its truly the first word i should focus on.

  8. So often we have that “but” in there! If only we would stop before the “but” and just say, “I am so grateful for…” Love these words friend!

  9. I’m so thankful for you and your link up hospitality! I love how you’ve made the connection beetween gratitude and hope. Thank you for your continued dedication in pointing us in the way of becoming better disciples.

  10. Great post Kelly. There is so much truth in this statement: “I may experience temporary hardships, but they do not alter my eternal absolutes.” It’s good reminder that God is in control.

  11. I’ve got a few “buts” in my gratitude list, too! May I always seek eternal security over temporary comfort! God is sovereign and His love is secure. May I find my hope in these absolutes!

  12. This is such a powerful reminder that our wording and our thought process affects my thanks and my worship and my prayers. Glad to have visited from the #RaRaLinkup today, grateful and thankful for you!

  13. I have a 10 year old so almost there. You are right-I want an asterisk free list as well! I have so much. Period.

  14. Thank you for offering this link up. I love your post. I have a 10-year-old and 12 years old so for sure know your pain. Have a great Thanksgiving.

  15. Hey Neighbor-at-Holley’s!

    I love that you’ve aimed toward hope. We’re all on a journey toward having that define who we are. And you’ve been a big encourager today.

    Thanksgiving blessings to you …

  16. I agree, it’s easy to add “buts” to our list of thanksgiving. Focussing on God and the hope we have in him is a good way to change our perspective and help us be truly grateful.

  17. Loved this Kelly-I often teach on this and it reminds me of living full of gratitude! Thanks for all you do-I’m grateful for you!

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