Science tells us that grateful people are typically happier. Being grateful makes us more optimistic and reduces negativity, which is a great reason to make giving thanks a daily habit instead of just a yearly celebration. Scripture also supports this idea, “And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful” Colossians 3:15 (NLT). Notice the direct correlation between being thankful and letting the peace of God rule in our hearts. Gratitude is something that springs from a realization that we deserve nothing and yet have so much!
6 WAYS TO CELEBRATE THANKSGIVING
Since gratitude and thanksgiving are primarily attitudes of the heart, we are in control of them. Our thanksgiving is not dependent on circumstances, but on our perspective on circumstances. So take control of your gratitude by using one or more of the following ideas to take your thanksgiving from once a year to a daily habit.
- Learn to say “Thank YOU!” Saying thank you shows a heart that says, “You didn’t need to do this– but you did, and I am grateful.”
- Write a thank you note. Whether digital, a postcard, or a physical note, this five-minute task can bring hours of encouragement to someone.
- Adopt the phrase “my pleasure.” I always come out of Chick-fil-A feeling good– and not only because of the food! It’s also because the workers convince me that they really get pleasure out of serving me. You can do the same.
- Cancel complaining. If we use cancel culture to attack complaining, we will all be better off. It is natural to complain, and easy to let it become a habit. Next time you feel frustrated, try focusing on something positive.
- Do acts of kindness. A well-known secret among volunteers is that an act of kindness does as much good for the volunteer as it does for those who are served. Look for an opportunity to serve someone– they’re all around us! You could mow a neighbor’s lawn, shovel snow, or hold a door open.
- Start a gratitude journal. In just a few minutes daily, you can write one or two things you are grateful for. Writing them helps you reflect on something positive and lifts your spirit. I started a gratitude journal 3 years ago, and what a blessing it was. Below are a few items I recorded during this time to give you some ideas:
- I have a great relationship with my children.
- I am in good health.
- My sins have all been paid; Jesus took my place.
- My wife loves to decorate our home each season.
- I have the Scriptures to read any time I want.
- I can talk with God anytime I want.
- We have a washer and dryer that work.
- The Holy Spirit of God indwells me… AMAZING, God in me!
- am thankful for the spiritual battles I face that cause me to grow.
- God is in control, sovereign over all that happens, directing everything in all creation.
I want to encourage you to keep a gratitude journal for 30 days. You’ll take your thanksgiving from a once a year event to a daily habit if you do. I am sure you will find what I did: keeping a spirit of gratitude will refresh your heart.
John is the Director of Word of Life Youth Ministries. He and his wife Pam have served with Word of Life for over 33 years in several regions including Southern California and North East Pennsylvania. They currently live in upstate NY where John has been serving in his current role since November, 2014.