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

 

3 Things to Forget, One thing to Remember

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Thanksgiving is all about remembering. It’s about reflecting on what God his done and His blessings in our lives. When it comes to life, we never want to forget the goodness of God. Our thankful hearts show that we trust His love and believe He can bring good even out of the worst situations.

As important as it is to remember and reflect on God’s goodness and blessings, there are several things we need to forget. The apostle Paul put it this way, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

So what past things should we forget? Here’s three that come to mind:

Past mistakes – Most of us tend to beat ourselves up over mistakes we have made even years ago. We must recognize that we all make mistakes, but we can always learn from them. Don’t let your mistakes define you. Move forward and be who God created you to be.

Past sins – As believers in Christ, our sins are forgiven. Paul wrote, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” That’s not a license to continue to sin, rather with a thankful heart we turn and repent and go a different direction. Christ came to free us from the burden of guilt and allow us to live in the joy of forgiveness.

Past offenses by others – It’s easy replay the hurts people have done to us in the past. Bitterness, anger and unforgiveness can fester in our memories for years. Let’s stop replaying the hurts and wounds. As forgiven people, we too must live a life of forgiving others. This Thanksgiving, may we release the right to hold past offenses over someone else.

I love to see the pictures on Instagram of Thanksgiving tables as people gather with family and friends. Although the food and decorations are lovely, keep in mind that there is nothing more beautiful than a thankful heart, and nothing more ugly than an unforgiving heart (whether it is not forgiving yourself or others). May your table be stunning as it overflows with thankfulness this year, leaving the negatives of the past behind you.

 

Photo by Cala on Unsplash

Giving Thanks while Giving Care

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When you think of the word “Caregiver,” what comes to mind? It’s interesting to think about different stages and times in our lives when we are giving care to others. Whether you are a:

Mom caring for the needs of your kids.

Spouse caring for the needs of your spouse.

Adult child caring for needs of your elderly parents.

Worker caring for the needs of co-workers.

Nurse or Doctor caring for the needs of patients.

Teacher caring for the needs of students.

The list could go on and on, because whenever and wherever we show care to others, we are “caregivers.” Aren’t you thankful that the Lord Himself is the ultimate “Caregiver,” caring for our daily needs as a shepherd cares for his sheep.

My friend Nancy Brown writes a blog specifically for caregivers. Her thoughts and concepts are born from her own challenges, frustrations and joys as she cared for her elderly parents. I’ve invited her to share her unique perspective in light of this Thanksgiving month.

 

Practicing Gratitude While Caregiving

It’s not easy to practice gratitude, especially when you’re in the trenches with caregiving or grieving the loss of a loved one.  It’s so difficult when there is always one more thing to take care of or one more problem to solve. It can feel overwhelming, endless, and thankless at times. Sometimes it feels like we’re doing it alone, but we need to remember that Jesus is with us each step of the way.

I have a little sign on my desk that was given to me by my son when he was five-years old. It simply says, “Keep on praying with a thankful heart.” I look at that sign each day and think about how much wisdom is contained in that simple sentence.  Often, simple reminders can get us back on track when we struggle with gratitude. Try keeping a gratitude journal, and write down five things each day for which you are grateful. When we are grateful, it must please Our Lord so very much. So, it should always be our goal.

Scripture Verses About Gratitude

1 Thessalonians 5:18 Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

 

Psalm 100:4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name.

 

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.

 

Prayer

Dear Father, sometimes it feels like You have given us more than we can carry. Help us to remember that You are carrying us during those times. Help us to be grateful for the difficult times as they are often periods of growth. We know it pleases You when we come to You with grateful hearts, and we pray that we can cultivate thankfulness each day.

If you would like to follow Nancy’s blog, please go to: www.faithfilledcaregivers.com

Photo by Evan Kirby on Unsplash

How to Be a Thankful Person

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Thankfulness is a game-changer! It’s one simple attitude that can make a monumental difference in your personal relationships, your work and your outlook on life. I know it may sound simplistic to say that being a thankful person can have such a powerful impact on our lives, but this one mind-shift has the potential to transform your actions and interactions with others. So how can a person develop an attitude of gratitude? Here are a few ways to redirect your thought-life and make positive difference in the world.

  1. Write it down. Start the habit of writing down your blessings in a thankfulness journal every morning as you enjoy your first cup of coffee. Write down at least five things that happened over the last 24 hours for which you can be thankful. You will begin to notice and pay attention to all the good things in your life, rather than being overwhelmed with the negative.
  2. Turn around challenges. When you face frustrations, mistakes, difficulties or challenges, instead of thinking that the world is against you, look for something good. Every challenge has a silver lining, but you must look (sometimes long and hard) to find it. Keep your focus on the benefits and what you can learn from your difficulties.
  3. See the best in others. There are no perfect people. Everyone has their own set of flaws, but thankful people choose to find something good in everyone. It’s easy to focus on people’s negative qualities, so it takes a deliberate effort to look for the good points in others. It’s a choice, but one that will turn your relationships around and open up your heart to the people around you.
  4. Stop grumbling. It’s time to get rid of the complaints and use your time and energy to do something positive. Negative talk only leads to discouragement, bitterness and anger. When you are tempted to grumble, save your words and find something productive you can do to make a difference. Turn grumbling into gratitude through loving actions.
  5. Step back and look at the bigger picture. Often we get worried and upset over circumstances and events, but if we step back and look at the bigger picture we can gain perspective. Often I ask myself, “In the big scheme of life, how much does this really matter?” When we look at things in light of eternity, it reduces our fears and opens our hearts to the opportunity to find blessings in the long run. As the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, “Our light, momentary afflictions are producing in us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen, but the things that are unseen.” Now that’s the perspective of someone with an attitude of gratitude!

Be a grateful person and you will become happy and content with life. It begins with simple habits formed over time to change your perspective. Most important, start each day thanking God for His unfailing love. Let’s celebrate Thanksgiving every day of the year!

 

I love the Lord because He hears my voice and my prayer for mercy.

Because He bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!

…How kind the Lord is! How good he is!

So merciful, this God of ours!

…I will offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord.

Psalm 116:1,2,5,17