. . . give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thes. 5:18)
These words from Scripture got me thinking about the many ways we can express gratitude in our everyday lives—and especially at this time of year. Sometimes it’s a private act. Other times we give thanks as a body, in prayer, or in corporate acts of service. I decided to jot down a list of ways to express thanks. Perhaps you’ll add to it and then pass it on to others.
1. Start your day with a prayer of thanksgiving. Focus on at least one thing or person and give thanks. Maybe the sound of birds chirping in a nearby tree or the warm presence of your spouse beside you, or the sun popping over the horizon.
2. List the top 10 things you’re grateful for. That should be easy—even on a bad day. You’re alive. People love you. You have food and a place to live. And that’s just a start.
3. Compliment your kids and spouse instead of critiquing them. Consider how it might feel if you told your family members each day one thing you appreciate about them. “I’m thankful for your smile.” “I’m grateful to be your dad (or mom).” “Thanks for all the ways you show me your love.”
4. Give thanks for your challenges. You lost your job? Be grateful. It might be the very ticket to lead you to a more exciting and better-paying position just around the corner. You caught the flu? Thank God for the chance to give your body the rest and care it appears to need. As you focus on gratitude, the stress melts away and speeds the healing process.
5. Appreciate what you don’t have. Do I really mean that? Give thanks for the lack in your life? Yes! Thank the Lord if you don’t have a yacht or a motor home or a time-share like your friend or neighbor. Not that having one is bad. But if you don’t, it means you won’t have to make payments on the item, clean it, or maintain it.
6. Consider your blessings even during a tragedy. When a loved one dies, you can be grateful even as you rightly grieve. Give thanks for his or her life and the memories you’ve made together. If you were in an accident and have to undergo medical care, you can focus on the life and limbs you still have and the opportunity to heal and recover.
7. Take time to appreciate the bounty of nature. I’m reminded of an old song title. “The Best Things in Life Are Free.” Indeed they are when you take time to gaze at a waterfall, a majestic peak, a field of flowers, a stand of trees, or a rainbow after a spring shower. Thank you God, for your creation.
8. Give thanks with a homemade gift. Who wouldn’t love to receive a meal, a dessert, a loaf of bread or a painting, a day of service, a knitted garment, a piece of carpentry, or other present that expresses your thanks in this personal way?
9. Write a personal thank you note in your own handwriting. Few people take time to do this, but it’s so special when they do. You may wish to add a bible verse or a quotation you chose especially for this individual.
10. End each day with an original prayer of thanks to God—as you lay your head on your pillow.
I’m grateful for you, my reader. Happy Thanksgiving!