Thanksgiving, gratitude, gratefulness, thankfulness, responsiveness, praise, appreciativeness.
Whatever you want to call it, Thanksgiving is here. It is important. There is a reason everyone (including me) is pulling out the gratitude posts this month.
Before I married my husband, I started going to his family Thanksgiving dinners. A practice they have, and many other family’s have, is going around the table and saying what they are thankful for. The first year I thought it was a little cheesy. I didn’t really get it. Also, I am HUGE on tradition and this isn’t a practice my family had done, so I kind of shrugged it off. Over the years it has become one of my favorite things to do. Not just this month, but throughout the year, and even sometimes on a daily basis. What changed you may ask? Well there’s a reason we are called to be thankful, and it’s because it is SO INCREDIBLY beneficial. Here are a few things I’ve learned myself over the years.
1. Practicing gratitude will help you combat anxiety
I wanted to write this first because I know more and more people are struggling with anxiety. A couple of years ago, at the peak of mine, I was attending counseling regularly (Another great thing we can talk more about later). My therapist highly suggested making a list of three things I was thankful for at the end of each day. This was to help me not focus on all of the negative stuff happening which I couldn’t control. It was extremely helpful but I still didn’t really get why I was doing it. Until a man came and spoke at our church. He was reading the verse we all know so well..
“Do not be anxious about anything…”
“yeah yeah yeah” I thought, “I’ve heard this before… easier said than done.”
But then he kept going… “BUT in every situation, by prayer and petition, WITH THANKSGIVING, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
It was like I was hearing it for the first time… oh, so that’s why I’m suppose to be practicing thanksgiving.. literally the Bible calls us to it in times we are anxious. For some reason it clicked that time. Why had I been stopping hearing the verse halfway through Ill never know. From then on I noticed when I would write down my list, it was more impactful. It feels good knowing God is there with you in your anxiety. He knew it would be something people dealt with, and he gave us a solution.
2. Gratitude will give you a more joyful life
Tying into the first point- when you are actively thinking on the things you are grateful for, there is little to no room to think about the other things. I find whenever I am bored, and haven’t been practicing gratitude, is when the bad thoughts or “whatever” thoughts just creep in. However, if I stay focused daily and remember what the true and real facts are, then I am so overwhelmed with all I have and all that is good. At that moment, I can’t worry about what might happen and what I don’t have, and have no other response then to be overflowing with joy.
“Sing joyful songs to the Lord! Praise the mighty rock where we are safe. Come to worship him with thankful hearts and songs of praise.” – Psalms 95:2
3. Gratitude helps you not take things for granted
Does anyone else remember the old song? “Count your many blessings.” coouuunnt your blesssings naame theemmmm oneee byyyy onneeeee (kind of drags out). Then, countyourmanyblessingsseewhatGodhathdone (yes, “hath” and it wraps up really quick). At least this is how my church would sing it. If you don’t know the song I’m sorry.
My point is, When you are looking at all of the wonderful things God has done, you stop and say “Wow God, Thank you.” You want to respond by praising him.
Things will not go unnoticed in your life. You won’t go day to day, taking things for granted when you are aware and open your eyes and heart to see them physically or on paper. You see, take notice, and respond with gratitude.
“Thank God, who did it all! His Love never quits!”- Psalm 136:6
This is how we do it (This is how we do it)
Gratitude is a simple thing. It doesn’t have to be around a table of people, but it can be. It can be in prayer, in a journal, out loud to your roommate or spouse. Some days are harder, and my list is short, but the effort and the words on the paper are still worth it. Although it is something, I believe, should be practiced all the time- how cool is it we get a special holiday to practice?!?
I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving this week with your family and friends or whoever you celebrate with.
How has gratitude changed you?
Do you have any special Thanksgiving traditions?
Do you have any ways you practice gratitude I didn’t mention?
I would LOVE to hear about it in the comments below!