What Does It Mean to ‘Count Your Blessings’?

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There are so many things that are positive and amazing in this world. In times when you are frightened, angry, or sad, it can be easy to lose sight of the good things in life. That’s when it’s a good idea to take inventory of your life and remember that you have so many things to be grateful for. Count your blessings! 

Jump ahead to these sections:

We’ll share some ways you can identify and count your blessings and talk about some similar messages you can share to encourage other people to count their blessings. 

What it Means to ‘Count Your Blessings’

Counting your blessings is an idiom that means you should be grateful for the things in your life. It also conveys the message that you shouldn’t dwell on what you don’t have. You may encourage people to count your blessings without even realizing that’s what they’re doing.

For instance, if your friend complains about being single, you might remind her about all the good things she has going for her. She has her health, a flourishing career, and lots of close friends and family members. You’re not trying to invalidate her struggle. You’re just reminding her of the blessings she has in her life.  

Counting your blessings twice meaning

“Count your blessings” is a fairly well-known idiom. It’s so ubiquitous, it’s spawned a spinoff. In a well-known poem, Bo Lanier wrote the following:

When I count my blessings, I count you twice.

This means that when someone is especially special and important, he or she is more than just one blessing in your life. 

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Origin of the phrase

The phrase “count your blessings” has been around for a long time. There’s a famous hymn called “Count Your Blessings,” written by Johnson Oatman, Jr. and composed by Edwin O. Excell. That hymn dates back to 1897. Prior to that, John Charles Earle posted a poem with the same title in 1878. It was widespread enough in the 1880s that even then it was considered something of a proverb.

Beyond that, the origin of the phrase is largely unknown. It’s likely religious in origin, as the word “blessing” is originally a distinctly religious concept. However, over time, its religious association has been diluted. For instance, even people who aren’t actively religious will often say “bless you” when someone sneezes. “Count your blessings” has had a similar evolution. 

There is some anecdotal evidence online that the idiom “count your blessings” is Jewish in origin. There was an ancient Jewish tradition where people would try to get 100 blessings by the end of the day. Counting your blessings would help you stay on track throughout the day. These blessings might be a prayer at a meal or something as simple as paying someone a compliment. Beyond that, though, the origins of the phrase are somewhat unclear.  

How to Count Your Blessings

Counting your blessings may sound simple but not everyone can easily break free of negativity. In order to properly count your blessings, you need to make gratitude a part of your day-to-day life. Here are a few ways you can do that:

Keep a gratitude journal

A gratitude journal is a diary that you keep specifically to track the things you’re most grateful for in life. It helps you take note of the things that enrich your life, no matter how small, on a regular basis.

It can be difficult to start a gratitude journal at first, especially if you’re not used to keeping a journal. Over time, it’ll become easier to readily identify the things you’re grateful for on any given day. It will also help you get creative — you won’t want to list the same things every day. Finally, and most importantly, it will help you to pay more attention throughout the day and be grateful in the moment.  

Go after your dreams

People often tell you to count your blessings because they hear you complaining about something a lot. They’re trying to get you to focus on the positive aspects of your life by reminding you to count your blessings. But you’ll find it’s easier to be happy in your life when you don’t have anything to complain about.

Identify the things that are causing unhappiness in your life. Then see what you can do to improve them. Do you wish you were in a relationship? Try online dating. Do you hate your job? Look for a new one, or go back to school to get a degree in the field you aspire to be in.

Once you change the things that make you unhappy, it’s easier to pay more attention to the positive aspects of your life.   

Focus on one thing at a time

Multitasking has become the way of the world. You might work from home after hours whenever a time-sensitive email comes in. A lot of people keep the TV on as background noise. You may spend time with your family and friends but look at phone screens more than at their faces. These blurred boundaries can become stressful and taxing to your emotional health.

Take time to really soak up your surroundings. It’s easier to find and count your blessings when they have your full and undivided attention.  

Write a letter of gratitude

You may get through the challenging times in your life thanks to the support of your family and friends. When you have amazing people in your corner, it’s important to thank them for their help.

Writing a gratitude letter to them is a great way to let them know how much you appreciate their support. It can also help you look back on those hard times in a better light.    

Live in the present

You may always be looking ahead to the next exciting thing. But when you do that, you can miss out on the small things around you every day. Planning for the future is great, but don’t wish the present away. Instead, take the time to count your blessings.   

‘Count Your Blessings’ Messages to Share

Not everyone is comfortable with the phrase “count your blessings.” It’s no longer used in a religious context but the word “blessings” may feel too overtly religious for some people. It may also just not fit your speaking style. Here are some other ways you can express the same message in other words:

1. “Gratitude turns what we have into enough.”

This anonymous saying reminds you to focus on the positive elements in life. It can make the things you tend to complain about feel less monumental.

2. “We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.”  

This saying from Cynthia Ozick reminds you that the smallest things in life are often your biggest blessings.   

3. “The more grateful I am, the more beauty I see.” 

This Mary Davis quote really gets at the heart of the purpose behind counting your blessings. When someone tells you to count your blessings, he wants you to focus on all of the good things you have going for you in your life.

That person wants you to realize that there’s beauty all around you. And once you start to take notice of that, it becomes all you can see.

4. “He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.”

This quote is attributed to Greek philosopher Epictetus, who lived in the first century BCE. It shows that the concept of counting your blessings existed long before the phrase was coined.  

How Counting Your Blessings Can Improve Your Life 

People like to talk about how it’s the simple things in life that mean the most. Gratitude is one of those simple, lovely things. You may know how to show gratitude for specific occasions.

Odds are that you’ve written someone a thank you note for a gift, for example. It can be a little trickier to apply that gratitude in your day to life. Hopefully, the tips and tricks here will help you to find it much easier to count your blessings every day.    

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