There has been much written lately about the power of thankfulness and gratitude. In 2010 Ann Voskamp wrote a powerful book entitled one thousand gifts: A Dare to LIVE FULLY Right Where You Are. Reading that book and practicing her discipline truly changed my life. I bought bunches of copies to give to friends, especially church friends.
Now, twelve years later, grumbling and complaining seems to have taken on epidemic proportions in this country. Even the church has joined the campaign and there seems to be no end of the negativity in sight. The upcoming celebration of Thanksgiving has taken on only carnal meaning. Gorging ourselves on delicious foods, indulging in endless sports shows, shopping beyond our means.
Is it too late to return to the intention of giving Almighty God our thanks and praise?
Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
According to Christianity.com “Abraham Lincoln wasn’t the first president to declare a national day of thanksgiving for the people of the United States. In 1789, George Washington proclaimed “a day of public thanksgiving and thanks” to thank God for his protection and as the source of all that is good.”
This year is no different. We will not be celebrating with family until Saturday, November 27. And even then, it might only be part of the family. The vaccinated do not want to be with the un-vaccinated. So last year we were split up by the Covid-19 health crisis and this year the split continues. Geesh. It just makes me sad.
I have returned to Ann Voskamp’s idea of writing out gratitudes. Research says 3 a day can make a difference in our overall mental health. I write as many original ones as I can think of on days when I open that page in the Word app or in the open book atop my dresser. It does make a change in me.
Harvard gives a good report on the effectiveness of gratitude at https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier
They site these ways to cultivate gratitude:
Ways to cultivate gratitude
Gratitude is a way for people to appreciate what they have instead of always reaching for something new in the hopes it will make them happier or thinking they can’t feel satisfied until every physical and material need is met. Gratitude helps people refocus on what they have instead of what they lack. And, although it may feel contrived at first, this mental state grows stronger with use and practice.
Here are some ways to cultivate gratitude on a regular basis.
Write a thank-you note. You can make yourself happier and nurture your relationship with another person by writing a thank-you letter or email expressing your enjoyment and appreciation of that person’s impact on your life. Send it, or better yet, deliver and read it in person if possible. Make a habit of sending at least one gratitude letter a month. Once in a while, write one to yourself.
Thank someone mentally. No time to write? It may help just to think about someone who has done something nice for you, and mentally thank the individual.
Keep a gratitude journal. Make it a habit to write down or share with a loved one thoughts about the gifts you’ve received each day.
Count your blessings. Pick a time every week to sit down and write about your blessings — reflecting on what went right or what you are grateful for. Sometimes it helps to pick a number — such as three to five things — that you will identify each week. As you write, be specific and think about the sensations you felt when something good happened to you.
Pray. People who are religious can use prayer to cultivate gratitude.
Meditate. Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment without judgment. Although people often focus on a word or phrase (such as “peace”), it is also possible to focus on what you’re grateful for (the warmth of the sun, a pleasant sound, etc.).
We could make this the start of an entire year of thankfulness. It is worthy of your consideration for your health physically, mentally and emotionally. Do not stop if you you do not get the discipline of doing it every day. Just begin. You might find the changes in you enough to motivate you to remember to list a few each day!