10 Ideas to Inspire Gratitude

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This month as we set aside a day to gather together and offer our thanks to the Lord for all He has done in our lives, let’s renew the habit of making thankfulness an everyday part our lives.  When we choose to deliberately focus on what we are thankful for, it changes our outlook in life. There is something to be glad about in every situation, but we need to be looking for it. That’s what thankful people do – they count their blessings rather than wasting time grumbling and complaining. Let’s be intentional about gratitude every single day and usher in the holidays with a joy-filled heart.

 

Here are 10 ideas to spark and inspire a grateful heart for both you and your family. These are simply suggestions, not another burdensome list. Keep it simple and just apply a couple of these in order to start a new Thanksgiving tradition.

 

  1. Write down 5 things you are thankful for every morning.
  2. Send a thank you note, text or email to a friend or family member, telling them what you appreciate about them.
  3. Forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against and thank the Lord for His forgiveness of your sins through Jesus.
  4. Give a thank you gift or flowers to brighten the day of someone who has been a blessing to you..
  5. Thank a member of the armed forces with a card or gift.
  6. Make a list of the things you can be thankful for in a challenge you are currently facing.
  7. Call your spouse during the day, just to say thank you.
  8. Create a space somewhere in the kitchen for everyone to write their list of blessings.
  9. Play and sing praise and worship music throughout your day.
  10. Pray together as a family at night, thanking the Lord for His blessings.

 

Finally, here are a few verses you may want to post around your house or memorize:

 

 Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5:16-18

 

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17

 

Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.  Psalm 106:1

Three Surprising Benefits of Gratitude

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We’ve always known that there are multiple benefits to being a thankful person. This week, I want to highlight three areas that I found to be inspiring and motivating. Hopefully, as we examine these benefits we will each take more deliberate steps to change our thinking patterns and focus on the good in our lives.

Less Stress – Neuroscience has discovered that thankful thoughts actually produce pleasure in the brain. Numerous other studies show the reduction of stress when we intentionally focus on what we are thankful for on a regular basis. One study even demonstrated that people who are grateful tend to sleep better.  And did you know that stress hormones like cortisol are 23 percent lower in grateful people? That’s enough to keep me motivated!

Humility – When we turn our hearts upward in thanks to God, we are recognizing all that we are and all that we have comes from Him. Pride on the other hand, says, “I did it myself,” and tends to ignite ego-centered and self-righteous thought patterns. A grateful heart acknowledges that our source of wisdom and strength comes from God – He is the one who gives us the gifts and talents to do what He has put us on this earth to do.

Better Relationships – When we are thankful, gracious and humble, we are more likely to demonstrate patience and self-control toward others. We tend to see the best in others rather than complaining about the worst in them, when we actively practice gratitude. Probably the most obvious reason grateful people have better relationships is because they are more delightful to be around. Who enjoys company with a Negative Nancy? One CNN report confirmed, “Couples who exhibit thankfulness tend to be more committed to each other and are more likely to remain in their relationships.”

Living a life of gratitude brings out the beauty in each of us. Let’s make it a daily practice to give thanks by writing at least five things we are thankful for in a journal every morning. The more specific and sincere, the better! Instead of simply writing, “I’m thankful for a great day yesterday,” write, “I’m grateful I had the opportunity to spend time with my best friend yesterday – shopping, laughing and walking around at the mall together.” We each have the power to change our focus. November is the perfect time to turn over a new leaf, don’t you think?

Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash

 

What’s Your Life Mission?

 

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How would you describe your purpose in life? Have you ever taken the time to consider your life mission? As you look at your life –  your values, your passions and your abilities – it is wise to consider where you are going and what you want to accomplish.

It’s easy to allow distractions and opportunities to pull us away from what’s truly important to us in life.

Not too long ago, I had a conversation with my dad about goals and priorities in life. As I visited with him, he got up from his chair, walked over to his desk drawer and pulled out a stack of old 11” by 14” cardboard pages. These cards were originally shirt boards that the cleaners placed in between his folded and pressed shirts. Dad used the cards to write out his mission statements and goals, but the incredible thing to me was to see that he wrote these out every single month. Handwritten!

Yes, he revisited his life mission and goals every single month. And he didn’t just read them and review them every month, he wrote them and updated them when necessary. This was incredibly inspirational to me. I must admit, I simply glanced my goals occasionally throughout the year and had never written out my mission statement.

I began to realize the power and impact of not only revisiting my life mission and goals, but writing them out and reviewing them on a regular basis.

When we utilize the lost art of hand-writing (not simply reading or typing) to reflect on our mission, we increase our capacity to remember and internalize what is important to us. It helps to keep us on track for where we want to go, what we want to be and how we are going to get there.

So what does a broad life mission statement look like? How do you determine what your overall purpose in life is, and how do you put it into a concise statement? First, consider your unique gifts and talents and how you hope to use them in this world. I like to ask questions such as:

“What were you created to do on this earth?”

“What is unique about you that can be a blessing in this world?”

Think big, think bold and think confidently.

Choose one verb that would describe how you use your gifts. For my dad, it is “to help.”

Here’s what my dad wrote as his life mission statement:

To help literally hundreds of millions of people to better lives: more secure financially, more satisfying spiritually and more fulfilling emotionally!!!

Just so you know, at 85 years old we can confidently say that he has fulfilled his life mission statement and continues to do so every day. Recently, when he sent out his retirement announcement (yes, at 85), he received hundreds of emails and notes in gratitude for all he had done to invest in the lives of business associates and sales people. It was clearly evident that he has fulfilled his life mission statement. Here’s a few quotes from the many notes he received:

It is hard to estimate how may people you have impacted over the years, but I know the ripple effects have reached and impacted countless individuals and families…You have impacted my sales and now management career in this great industry.

You had a huge impact in my professional and personal life.

I salute Gary Kinder as an awesome example of how sales people and sales executives should operate. Thank you Garry…thank you sir. You changed my life and made it fulfilling.

The impact you’ve have had not only nationally, but internationally is quite a legacy that will live on!

Take some time this week to create your own Life Mission Statement.

 And just in case you are interested, here’s mine:

To encourage men and women around the world to live out their God-given responsibilities in a positive and productive way.

Who do you believe?

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What a confusing and sad week it was last week. Our nation is butting heads on the basis of conflicting stories and bringing us all to the question, “Who do we really believe?” This scenario is nothing new in life. Parents find themselves trying to piece together the truth when their two darling children tell two very different tales. Spouses dispute over, “He said; she said.” A co-worker makes a claim about another co-worker, leaving doubts in everyone’s mind.

How do we discern the truth? Is it possible to know which story to believe? As I look at what is happening in Washington, I want to draw a few principles we can apply to our lives in general, as well as the situation at hand.

  • Make decisions based on the facts, not feelings or what we want the outcome to be.
  • Listen carefully to both sides. We must learn to be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to become angry.
  • Pray for discernment and wisdom. Pray for the truth to come to light. Pray for conviction in the hearts of those who are telling lies.
  • Don’t be afraid of the truth.
  • Don’t scream and shout, especially when you don’t know the whole truth.
  • Don’t ignore a person’s pain. Listen, comfort and help.
  • Never ruin another person’s honor or reputation based on gossip, hearsay or half-truths.
  • If you are a victim, seek help and talk to someone. Walk through the grief with the help of another. You are never alone. God sees your pain and heartache, and there are people who can help you heal.
  • Be careful to never falsely accuse another person. Fabricated accusations not only damage the accused, but harm those people who are true victims. Crying wolf with deceitful allegations does a disservice to women in general, as people will tend to distrust future sexual assault victims.

Finally, trust God’s justice. Even if we think truth did not win out – God knows the truth. His justice is better than man’s faulty decisions. Don’t let anger take over your attitude. Listen to David’s words in Psalm 37 and allow them to calm our heart no matter what life brings.

Don’t worry about the wicked
or envy those who do wrong.
For like grass, they soon fade away.
Like spring flowers, they soon wither.

Trust in the Lord and do good.
Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you your heart’s desires.

Commit everything you do to the Lord.
Trust him, and he will help you.
 He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn,
and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.

 Be still in the presence of the Lord,
and wait patiently for him to act.
Don’t worry about evil people who prosper
or fret about their wicked schemes.

 Stop being angry!
Turn from your rage!
Do not lose your temper—
it only leads to harm.
For the wicked will be destroyed,
but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land.

Photo from Unsplash

How to Wait Well

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No one enjoys waiting. Whether its at a doctors office, a check-out line or a drive thru, we typically want to get done and move on to the next item on our agenda. Sometimes in life we have to wait on bigger and more life-changing situations such as a diagnosis or a job interview or even a future spouse.  If you find yourself in the seat of waiting, here are a few thoughts to help you live with patience and victory.

Turn your Focus.  It’s easy to get frustrated and impatient when all you think about is How long is this going to take?!  Yet, if you turn your thoughts in a different direction then time can seem to slip by unnoticed. How do you turn your thoughts in a new direction? Certainly there are short term fixes (checking emails or reading a magazine), but if the wait is lengthy, consider exploring a new passion or interest.  You can research places to volunteer or classes to take to move in a positive direction while waiting.

Be Creative. Waiting doesn’t have to be boring. Replace the dullness of waiting with the joy and fun of fresh ideas. If you are in the line at the drive-thru, sing happy songs with your kids. If you are waiting in the check out line at Walmart, play I Spy. If you are waiting for that perfect job to open up, consider taking on a new hobby or sport that makes you smile. Tap into your creative resources and fill your waiting with laughter, rather than complaining.

Think about Others. No matter what you are waiting for, you are not alone. There are other customers, clients and patients that have similar situations. Why not pray for them? Perhaps you can start a conversation or reach out to help someone in need or kindly let someone go ahead of you. When you get your eyes off your own circumstances, you free yourself to see the needs and hurts around you. Thinking of the needs of others develops an inner peace and joy in your own heart.

Ask for God’s help. One of the fruits of God’s Spirit is patience. The Bible reminds us that, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” Look to Him, and ask for His help when it comes to waiting. He can give you strength to endure as well as creative ideas on what to do while you wait. Draw close to Him during your time of waiting and you will discover enduring hope in the process.

These are simply a few principles to help us wait well. May we continually apply these thoughts to both short term delays as well as long term anticipation. Let’s also consider how we can respond well to the impatient people around us. Remember the words of the apostle Paul,  “Love is patient, love is kind.”