The point of Thanksgiving is in the name: giving thanks. Gratitude. Thanking God for all that He has done.
Gratitude seems to be a lost art in today’s world. Complaining and negativity have taken hold and swept the culture away. People just don’t think to stop and take time to appreciate all that they have.
Especially in entitled, materialistic America, the focus is always on things that have gone wrong in our lives, things we don’t have, things other people have done to us when in fact, we have so much more than many people in poverty around the world.
Yes, bad things will happen to us, and yes, living in a well-off country doesn’t mean life will always be sunshine and rainbows. But if we take a few moments to gain some perspective, actually think about the things we complain about, and really appreciate all that we take for granted, I think we will find ourselves much happier and living much better lives.
So, I want to encourage all of my American readers to truly observe Thanksgiving tomorrow. Enjoy the food and family and whatever your normal traditions are with a spirit of gratitude to God for the life He has given you. Take some time alone to pray, thinking back over the year and all that God has given you. Make a list if you want, and focus your heart on thankfulness all during the day.
Then, extend that spirit of gratitude throughout the year. A few ideas:
- Keep a gratitude journal. I’ve begun doing this; every night before bed, I list out a few things from the previous day that I am thankful for. Having an opportunity to refocus every day is very helpful.
- Challenge yourself to completely stop complaining for a week (or a month, if you want to get crazy…). See if you can involve friends or family as well, and maybe come up with some kind of reward/penalty system if other people catch you complaining. Have fun with it!
- Send hand-written thank-you notes to people every time they do something for you, no matter how small. A friend bake for you? Your parents help you with something? Don’t only write notes after your birthday, but look for opportunities all throughout the year!
Focus on cultivating gratitude in your life and see the difference it makes in your happiness and that of the people around you!