The season of Thanksgiving is kinda – sorta upon us. Thanksgiving doesn’t get much attention in our increasingly secular society. You need to look really – really closely or you might just miss it. Get distracted by a good book (novella/short story) and Thanksgiving will have passed you by. Even blink or sneeze and you will have missed the entire season of Thanksgiving for another year!
And this is truly a huge shame – because Thanksgiving is amazing! Thanksgiving is awesome. Thanksgiving is a delight and a joy!
And I am not just talking about the food and family parts of Thanksgiving. (But yum to pumpkin flavored anything! And yippee to the fun of getting together with people you love and enjoy.)
It is truly a shame we don’t spend more time celebrating Thanksgiving because gratitude is good for our souls. Actually gratitude is shockingly good for our hearts – minds – and souls. If we were all more focused on gratitude – our world would be a nicer – kinder – more gracious – loving place. Seriously!
I am not making this stuff up.
I find gratitude and grateful people and thanksgiving intriguing. Apparently so do plenty of other folks too. I have read entire books on the subject of gratitude. And these books make for some truly inspiring reading. Reading that will make you want to change the way you live your life (at least they did me).
Scientists and super-duper smart people with much fancier degrees than mine have studied gratitude and our brains on gratitude. The results are intriguing! Gratitude changes us for the better. Really – honestly – it does!
Gratitude makes us happier and who doesn’t want to be happier? Gratitude also makes us healthier! And nicer!
Scientists have found if you take just 5 minutes a day and write down the things and people you are grateful for your happiness will be significantly improved. No kidding – you will be happier if you simply take the time to consider thoughtfully and to write down some of your blessings each day.
This makes a lot of sense actually – because most of us spend way – way – way more time complaining and moaning and groaning about what is wrong in our lives and with the world and the OTHER people in it. We talk and focus far more on what we don’t like. You can eat at a restaurant 2,500 times and have a great experiences – but it will be that 1 bad experience you talk about over and over and over again. We all have laser focus on the stuff we don’t like. We obsess about what makes us unhappy. Most of us live out the fairytale of “The Princess and the Pea” in our lives each and every day!
It is downright depressing to go to most meetings because all folks do is talk about what they don’t like or what is wrong or what is NOT going smoothly. When was the last time you went to a meeting and you left feeling positive or uplifted or encouraged or hopeful? Nope – we complain and point out what we don’t like and what is wrong. But we don’t talk about what is going well or smoothly or is good. We don’t focus on our blessings. Actually – we don’t even mention our blessings or what is going well.
And so a gratitude journal is a wonderful way of resetting our brains. Of keeping our perspective. Of reminding ourselves of what is really true about our lives. When we are focused on that 1 or 2 or 5 things that are wrong/making us unhappy – we forget the 1,000s upon 1,000s of wonderful blessings in our lives. A gratitude journal reminds of our abundant blessings. A gratitude journal reminds us that our lives are filled to overflowing with blessings and things and people to be thankful for even if not everything is perfectly perfect.
(I think we need to start ending church council meetings with a moment of gratitude. It might help us/me keep our/my perspective . . .)
Since reading about the way being grateful shapes one’s happiness – I have tried to focus more on my blessings. It isn’t always easy. Honestly – some days I find it to be incredibly challenging. But I will say I have noticed over time that I am a happier – more joyful person. My heart has changed (so not kidding) since I started focusing more on my blessings and on gratitude. I am more grateful for my blessings and I think I see my blessings more often. Of course – I am still so very – very – very human so I take my blessings from God for granted all of the time – but it is better than it was before.
One thing I do on really tough days is list 3 DIFFERENT blessings each hour I am awake. (I consider it cheating to list Jason – Jack – and Will more than once a day.)
I have been up for 4 hours today (insomnia . . . time change weirdness . . . just me . . . ) Today isn’t a hard day – just a day – but I thought I would be extra mindful of my blessings.
1) coffee = I woke up at 4:00 am
2) our furnace = seriously – central heat what a gloriously awesome blessing
3) electric lights = I woke up at 4:00 am
4) Jack = by now he was up and getting ready for school
5) Ash = our kitten sleeping on my lap
6) our hot water heater = hot water just flows out of our pipes whenever I want it!
7) Will = 6:00 am and my little guy is awake and thrilled to be alive
8) abundant food = our pantry is full of it
9) our dishes
10) Jason = I can hear him in the other room working
11) sunshine = it looks like the sun might shine for a bit today
12) hugs = I just got an amazing hug from my favorite 8 year old
Gratitude is good for us. Gratitude is good for the people around us too. Yes – gratitude makes us happier. But gratitude also makes us nicer people and therefore might just make the people around us happier. How cool is that?
Studies have shown that grateful people are more likeable too! This really doesn’t seem like rocket science though now does it? Who would you rather hang out with – a grumpy curmudgeon or a grateful ray of hope and sunshine? Yeah – me too!
Gratitude is good for us. And gratitude is good for those around us too. I encourage you to give gratitude a try. You might just find you like it and that those around you like you on gratitude too!?!?!
What are you grateful for? Who are you grateful for? How has God blessed you?
You are all in my heart – thoughts – and prayers.
In Christ and with Love –