Thanksgiving week-end may be over for this year, but the act of giving thanks can go on throughout the entire year. Like all good habits, the habit of giving thanks must be intentionally cultivated. It is far too easy to complain in difficult circumstances or to take our blessings for granted. So, how do we practice gratitude?
Like anything that we practice (dance, music, athletics), we must decide it’s important. Then we make time for it. Sometimes that time is scheduled for us, and sometimes we must schedule it ourselves. When it’s up to us, how do we remember? We can remind ourselves through notes. That works until we stop noticing the notes.
One good way, is it to tie something in to what we already do naturally in our day. I decided on my birthday this year that I would do some simple strengthening and stretching exercises every day. When? Right after I got up in the morning. Since, I always get up in the morning, tying my exercises with that works. (Plus, I felt it was the only way I wouldn’t put it off). When we want to build a new habit, we are actually changing our thought processes and our way of life. We need all the help we can get!
Another important thing to consider when developing habits is to be specific. Saying, “I will give thanks more often” won’t likely get you very far. I recently bought myself a small notebook and I’ve decided to write down five things I’m thankful for every day for the rest of October. I want to make Thanksgiving last! I’m planning to do it every night before I go to bed.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, the Bible says, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.” Whether you use a Gratitude Journal or think of another way to cultivate a thankful heart, I encourage you to plan a way to be more thankful every day.