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One of the most beneficial attributes a person can exercise is thankfulness—and having a thankful attitude is contagious. Normally, when I give a sincere “thank you” to someone, they will respond with gratitude in turn. It’s also true that when a group of people displays a thankful attitude, those spending time around them become thankful as well. How can we develop a more thankful and positive perspective?
Let’s consider four simple yet profound ways that can be sources of joy and peace of mind in our lives, which each of us can use to help ourselves remember to be more thankful.
First, try keeping a daily journal of things to be thankful for. Having a simple, concrete log of things that we are thankful for helps us in many ways, both now and in the future. Our society is so fast-paced that we can easily overlook the simple things, but a journal can help us sort through and see the evidence of what we are thankful for, especially if we are having a particularly rough day or going through a lengthy trial. We also tend to enjoy reviewing our thoughts later to see our potential character growth.
A journal of thankfulness gives us a way to review, but it doesn’t have to be a time-consuming writing project! Consider just three things each day that you are thankful for. After a while, you may increase the number to five or more. Also, try to consciously choose unique things each day to avoid the pitfall of just going through the motions. This makes it easy to set and achieve the goal of keeping a daily journal of things to be thankful for.
Next, find ways to help and serve others. We tend to identify service as any action assisting or benefiting others. How can we better serve others? Some examples are volunteering in the community such as at local food banks, Habitat for Humanity projects, and schools. If we have extra material possessions, we can donate them to those in need.
At the family level, husbands and wives can serve each other daily through various tasks and needs within the family unit. Sometimes, our service is just being there for someone who is struggling through physical or emotional trials. Disasters are also opportunities for people to use their talents and abilities to ease the burden of others who may have been negatively affected. Jesus Christ encouraged us to be willing to serve (Matthew 20:25–28) and to live our lives showing love toward our neighbors (Luke 10:27; see also Leviticus 19:18).
Consciously and sincerely communicate your thankfulness. Verbally expressing gratitude to others will have a positive ripple effect in their lives and our own. God purposely made thankfulness a key component of outflowing love. Honoring and being thankful to and for our parents is a commandment with a promise of long life and benefits throughout multiple generations (Exodus 20:12). We can encourage people who have made a difference in our lives by showing sincere gratitude for their love. Telling our spouses and our children “I am thankful for you” can make their day and strengthen our relationships. We can also express our thankfulness to people who serve us at stores, restaurants, and other places and situations where we may be served. Often, these people bear the brunt of bad attitudes and frustrations—so a simple and sincere “thank you” truly goes a long way.
Pray with thanksgiving and tell God what you are thankful for. One of my favorite scriptures about this is Philippians 4:6: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” Our Father desires to give us good things and desires to hear that we appreciate all the hard work and dedication that He has done on our behalf. Fathers and mothers love to hear their children express their gratitude and desire to hear them express what makes them happy. Our Father in Heaven is no different. He wants us to include Him actively in our thoughts, our prayers, our words, and our deeds. Even Jesus Christ gave the Father thanks for His blessings (Matthew 15:36; 26:27).
Thankfulness is a conscious habit and one of the most beneficial character traits that an individual can possess. Those who are thankful are positive lights in a troubled world—often encouraging others to be more thankful, themselves, by their example. God blesses the nation and the people who are thankful and express gratitude for His many gifts. “Be thankful to Him, and bless His name” (Psalm 100:4).
Gratitude is one of the key ingredients to both a moral life and a moral society. You might find the telecasts “The End of Morality?” and “A God You Can Know” informative for understanding just how important these values are to our great Creator. Be sure to check them out right here at Tomorrow’s World today!
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