Want a longer life, better relationships and improved health? Be thankful!
When my kids were little, it was important to instill the character quality of being thankful in them. They were prompted to say thank you to anyone who served them or gifted them. Their prayer time always started with a long and creative list of thank yous. As they grew, they thanked bus drivers for shuttling them, the cafeteria workers for doing the dishes and tow truck drivers for being so prompt.
Being thankful has myriad benefits.
Being thankful rewards us with better health, cheerier dispositions and deeper, more meaningful relationships.
Thankful people enjoy a stronger sense of well-being, suffer fewer symptoms of depression and are less likely to seek revenge against others. They are more likely to have empathy for others.
We are told in Scripture, “In everything give thanks.” It is a directive straight from God, recorded by Paul. It is a divine expectation.
So how do you develop a habit of thankfulness?
1. Go without.
To gain a whole new level of appreciation and accelerate your thankfulness, go without something you take for granted!
Spend one day doing without food or electricity or hot water. Sleep on the floor a night or two. Give up sugar or coffee for a day or two. Spend a day or a week without television or radio or internet. Trust me, going without jumpstarts thankfulness.
2. Speak out thankfulness.
If you’re not ready to forego running water … spend a bit of time every day thanking God. You can speak it out or journal it, but see how many items you come up with. These are the first 25 in my journal.
- My salvation through Jesus’s death and resurrection.
- Mr. 4-Ever.
- The kids.
- My moms and dad.
- Holy Spirit guidance.
- Flannel sheets, slinky sheets and clean sheets.
- Heat in my house.
- A closet full of clothing.
- The color green.
- In house refrigerator, washer, dryer, garbage disposal.
- The work and ministry I do.
- All the safety I enjoy every day.
- The bills that are paid.
- My family of origin.
- The taste of raspberries.
- Freedom to vote.
- Ability to read.
- Coffee, tea, soda pop.
- Clean water – hot and cold.
- First responders.
- Dogs and Cats and pets of all kinds.
- Mail service.
Thanking God reminds us of God’s faithfulness to us and the authority he holds in our lives.
3. Be thankful in all things – even if they’re hard.
Bill Bright, co-founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, wrote: “The best way to demonstrate faith is to say ‘Thank You.'”
You don’t have to be thankful FOR rotten things, but you can and should be thankful in the midst of them. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”
Find the silver lining. Look for the small bright spot in the situation. I call these lousy tradeoffs. When my kids moved out, I suffered in my empty nest, but then I realized how clean my house stayed – lousy tradeoff. In my grief after my man died, I lost all the weight I’d fought against for a decade – lousy tradeoff. When my mom was hospitalized with cancer, I got to spend lots of time with her – lousy tradeoff. All these hard seasons had a spot of hope or joy in the midst of them.
Thankfulness is character building and leads to a better emotional state, improved relationships, and clearer understanding of God’s heart.
Friend, I wish you the very best Thanksgiving. I hope your jello set sand your marshmallows don’t burn. May your turkey get done on time and be juicy and delicious. Let the people at your table encounter Christ through you. Spread thankfulness habitually!
In the comments below tell me what you do or you’re going to do to develop thankfulness.