Thanksgiving is just around the corner. You know what that means: It’s that time of year when Americans prepare for turkey, cranberries, and football. You have also probably already seen the #thankful campaigns on Facebook and Twitter where people take the time to be grateful for one thing every day. While we could debate the merits of such a thing for quite a while, we will instead focus on the spirit of thankfulness. As followers of Christ, gratefulness is a part of how we connect with the divine and how we quench our spiritual thirst.
Gratitude is a virtue, one that is worthy of cultivation and daily practice just as we practice worship and prayer. It is at the heart of what it means to be a Christ-follower. Inversely, ingratitude was at the heart of the fall: “Although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him” (Romans 1:21 ESV). But just as with prayer, it takes practice and intentionality to incorporate thankfulness into who we are. So with that in mind, we have prepared a brief list of ways you can start practicing gratitude in your daily lives.
With Joy and Thanksgiving
Write a Letter
Think of someone who has done something amazing for you, someone who has gone above and beyond just because they could. Have you ever shown them how grateful you are? How much they mean to you? Find some stationary and sit yourself down at the dinner table and write them a handwritten thank you note. Tell them what they mean to you and how much their actions affected you. By putting it in a handwritten note, you are taking the time and the effort to show them how thankful you are. It’s more thoughtful than simply sending a text or an email. It will remind you of how blessed you are to have such a wonderful person in your life and it will make that person feel great, too!
For Every Negative…
Unfortunately, we live in a world where negativity spreads like wildfire. It can leave us feeling worn out and depleted. One of the greatest ways you can combat this is by throwing out a positive anytime you hear a negative, and thinking about things you are grateful for is a sound strategy. If someone is down about the election season, mention how grateful you are that you live in a country where your voice can be heard. Classmates ranting about finals week? Think about how blessed you are to be able to pursue an education. It doesn’t negate the reality of those feelings, and that shouldn’t be the intent of gratitude. What it does do is shift your focus from the negative of the situation to the potential positives.
This may seem counterintuitive but stick with us. One of the best ways to practice gratitude is by giving. We have all experienced this at some point in our lives. You might be feeling down and kind of cranky, life may not be going your way, when out of the blue you have an opportunity to give to someone else. Whether it’s a monetary gift or just the gift of your time and attention, you’ll find that when you give of yourself, you’ll receive so much more than you ever expected.
Those are only a handful of the ways you can start practicing gratitude on a daily basis. What other ways can you think of? Make a list and get rolling! You’ll be glad that you did.
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