Gratitude is a Matter of the Heart

When we witness greatness, particularly in athletics, it is difficult to deny.

Each sport has its own champion.

However, the greatest champion of all time wasn’t human.

In 1973 the world saw greatness like never before in the form of a Thoroughbred race horse.  If you know anything of horse racing, you know Secretariat.

Big Red, as he was called, was the greatest of all-time.

In 1973, Secretariat won the Triple Crown of horse racing in grand fashion and still holds the track records at ALL THREE events: Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes.

I have always been in awe of this beautiful horse and what he was able to accomplish.

When you watch, you are watching greatness.

(There was an awesome documentary on ESPN a few years back that told the whole tale and if you have 30 minutes, you can watch it along with live footage here.  You can also see the Wikipedia link to Secretariat here.)

Secretariat, 1973 Triple Crown Winner, was considered the greatest racehorse in history

Secretariat – image via Wikipedia

Upon his death in 1989, a necropsy revealed something amazing about Secretariat.

His heart – his engine – was almost three times the size of a normal horse’s heart; weighing an estimated 22 pounds!!

In horse racing, this genetic condition has become referred to as the X-Factor.

Although it has never been proven, many great Thoroughbreds have possessed the condition.  While reading this it hit me:

Secretariat’s greatness started with the size of his heart!

That is where it starts for us as well!


Physically the heart controls the rest of the body, it is the engine that everything else runs on.  Metaphorically, our heart – our soul – is the engine that fuels our lives!

This is where gratitude has to begin.

True gratitude occurs when your heart is changed; when gratitude is the response to any circumstance. (tweet that)

Victim thinking is a huge obstacle to understanding gratitude.  When you see yourself as a victim of your circumstances, rather than a victor over them, you’re held captive to an ungrateful heart.

In fact, it could take years of acting grateful for a certain difficult situation for it to shape your heart, but it will.

To me, this is the story of the gospel, the story of the cross.

Regardless of your faith perspective, Jesus’ death was gruesome.  But every Easter Sunday, Christians everywhere celebrate the stone being rolled away to reveal an empty tomb.

Joy in spite of tragedy.

Do you have the X-Factor?  

How big is your heart?

Here are three questions – The Gratitude Test

1.  Do you want to live differently?

This is the first and essential question.  If you are satisfied with where you are, if you have reached your mountain-top, then this isn’t for you.

I would argue there are more mountains to climb, more greatness to experience, but ultimately, it’s up to you.

Adversely, if you’re in the valley and you’re pitching your tent, this will not make any sense either.,

However, if you’re in either of these places and wonder, “Is there something else?”  You can go places!

2.  Where are you limiting the size of your heart?

In order to grow, we have to be objective to our situation.  We have to assess and be honest with ourselves.

Taking responsibility is the first step to healing.  Even if the responsibility is simply how you’ve responded to something difficult.

Start looking for the roadblocks or broken places along your path!

3.  How can you expand your heart – let gratitude move you?  

Gratitude is seen in action.  Don’t let gratitude be mistaken for complacency.

I was talking with a friend the other day going through a tough time.

We discussed that being grateful doesn’t mean, “I’m stuck here forever and I have to be thankful for it.”

As you dig deep in your heart for gratitude, you will find those areas that need change.  Take action to change.  Let gratitude move you.

The first step in farming is preparing the soil!  Pull out the weeds and prepare the soil of your soul for the seeds of gratitude.

How can you begin to plant gratitude in your heart today?


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10 Responses to Gratitude is a Matter of the Heart

  1. Joshua Mitchell August 28, 2013 at 10:18 am #

    Matt, I started reading your blog after our Monday meeting. This post made me think of a scripture that is near to my heart (and I just read it this past weekend in my One Year Bible). “I will run the course of Your commandments, For You shall enlarge my heart.” Psalm 119:32

    • Matt Ham August 28, 2013 at 10:40 am #

      Josh – awesome man! Love the verse and appreciate you reading! The verse ties in so well with the post – I may have to add it in! Have a great day!

  2. Derrick Ham August 28, 2013 at 10:47 am #

    Enjoy your daily thoughts. Use all the gifts you have. Remember years ago “Don’t let the world change You change the world”. Love Dad

    • Matt Ham August 28, 2013 at 12:33 pm #

      Thanks Pops! Thought YOU would especially like the Secretariat reference! Love you!


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