When I saw this meme on Facebook last November I was struck by its accuracy:
I initially felt a little self-righteous as I read it. After all, I don’t complain on Facebook. In taking a good, honest look at myself, though, I see that my complaining occurs in person or via phone.
What about you? Do you give thanks around the Thanksgiving holiday, but sometimes forget to be grateful throughout the year? If so, join me in asking the Lord’s help to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and to praise Him at all times (Psalm 34:1).
What are some practical ways you can cultivate gratitude? I shared some ideas last year that are still relevant today:
- Nurture relationships. Of all the blessings in our lives, the people are the greatest. We can spend quality time with our loved ones and let them know how thankful we are for them.
- Say “thank you.” In order to express our thanks to someone, we first have to identify things for which we’re appreciative. Thanking others on a regular basis can help us make sure we’re considering these things often.
- Give generously. Giving of our time and money helps us realize that we actually have things to give. We begin seeing just how much we are blessed!
- Keep a gratitude journal. We can easily see how many blessings we have when we take time to list them. We can review these lists in times of discouragement.
- Forgive. The bitterness of refusing to forgive commandeers the ability to be grateful—it becomes a thorn in our sides that we can’t ignore. Forgiving frees our focus so we can think about the blessings in our lives.
- Be kind. Smile kindly. Encourage a friend. Anonymously pay for someone else’s meal. Bake cookies for neighbors. Little kindnesses like these simultaneously improve our moods and give others things for which to be thankful. The Bible describes it like this in Proverbs 11:25: “…he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”
- Volunteer. By serving at a homeless shelter, mentoring a teenager, or visiting a nursing home, we not only focus on the needs of others but we find opportunities to fellowship with other volunteers.
- Serve others. One of the easiest ways to take our eyes off our own struggles is to focus on the needs of others.
- Let go of the past. We can’t change the past. Wallowing around in disappointment and regrets gets us nowhere. However, we can learn from it, forgive when needed, and move forward.
- Focus on the positive. There’s almost always something positive—even if it’s small—that we can identify and focus on instead of mulling the negative aspects of our situations.
- Be optimistic. We can choose to view the glass as half full instead of half empty. We can do this with confidence because we know that God is for us and that He is working for our good (Romans 8:18-39).
- Avoid comparison. The grass will almost always appear greener on the other side of the fence. We need to make sure our side of the fence is green by focusing on maintaining our own lawns!
- Don’t make excuses. We often make excuses to mask our inadequacies and weaknesses. If we choose to be honest instead, we can confront our weaknesses and begin overcoming them. This progress is something about which to be grateful!
What things do you do to cultivate thankfulness all year long?