When my girls were small and demonstrated a bad attitude or entitlement disposition, I would punish them by making them list 10 things they were thankful for. That practice either made them more thankful or less vocal with their complaints. Either way, it was a welcome relief.
The disciplined practice of giving thanks is not only good for small children, but also for fully grown adults. There are plenty of times when my own attitude is not what it ought to be. This is especially noticeable when I look in the mirror of God’s word and see verses like 1 Thessalonians 5:18, which reads, “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” I am not always giving thanks in everything.
As we are on the verge of the Thanksgiving holiday, here are some ways we can cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Consider these five potential thanksgiving habits:
1. Practice a Thanksgiving Countdown — Pastor Tommy Reed from Fitzpatrick Baptist Church in east Kentucky has been providing a daily “thanksgiving” list on Facebook. He started on Oct. 29 and has been listing one item each day for which he is thankful. On the 29th, Bro. Tommy stated he was thankful for the Lord saving his soul and on the 31st he gave thanks for his wife, Dawn. Bro Tommy has kept this practice going leading up to Thanksgiving. What a great way to flood social media with gratitude.
2. Tell People, “Thank You” — I recently heard someone say they were developing the habit of telling their spouse “thank you” for simple things they do. Too often in marriage we take for granted the spouse God has given us and the ways they serve us each day. It is good to thank a spouse for cooking a meal or cutting the grass or bringing in the groceries or providing for the family or loving the children or letting the dog out at 3:00 in the morning. Each spouse contributes greatly to marriage, and we will improve the environment in our home when we show appreciation.
3. Thank God Daily — This should go without saying, but I must confess that far too often I run straight past the “enter His gates with thanksgiving” to bring all my petitions to “the throne of grace.” Listing 10, 15 or 20 things we are thankful for can put us in the right disposition to pray for those things we need. You may even consider thanking God for some of your more painful experiences. Most of us would like to avoid pain, but we would also likely agree that pain has been one of our most dependable teachers.
4. Journal a Thanksgiving List — My mood early in the day is often less than thankful. Sometimes I am just plain tired and grumpy. Taking the time to list five or 10 items for which I am thankful can do wonders to change my outlook on the day.
5. Communicate Thanksgiving to Others — We have multiple ways to let others know we appreciate them. We can use text, email or a phone call. We can go on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and express appreciation for others. We can even write a note. There are lots of ways we can tell people thank you — and it is good for us and encouraging to others when do so.
What have you discovered helps you to cultivate an attitude of gratitude?