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One of the most beneficial attributes a person can exercise is thankfulness—and having a thankful attitude is contagious. Most often, when I give a sincere “thank you” to someone, they will respond with gratitude in turn. It’s also true that when people display a thankful attitude, others around them become thankful as well. How can we develop a more thankful and positive perspective?
Let’s consider a few simple yet profound ways to bring more joy and peace of mind to our lives, which each of us can use to remind ourselves to be more thankful.
Keeping a simple, daily log of things for which we are thankful helps us in many ways. Our society is so fast-paced that we can easily overlook the simple things, but a journal can help us sort through the mental clutter and recognize the good in our lives, particularly on rough days or when we are going through difficult trials.
This doesn’t have to be a time-consuming writing project! Jot down just three things each day that you are thankful for. After a while, you may want to increase the number to five or more. Try to choose fresh items each day. Over time, you may even enjoy going back to review your thoughts, and the review may reveal some character growth.
Jesus Christ encourages us to be willing to serve (Matthew 20:25–28) and to live lives showing love toward our neighbors (Luke 10:27; see also Leviticus 19:18). How can we better serve others? At the family level, husbands and wives can serve each other daily through various tasks and needs within the family unit. Sometimes, a most valuable service is just being there for someone struggling through physical or emotional trials.
Natural disasters are also opportunities for people to use their talents and abilities to ease the burden of others who may be suffering. Some examples of this involve 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.
Verbally expressing gratitude to others will often have a positive effect in their lives as well as 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 encourage people who have made a difference in our lives when we show sincere gratitude for their love. Telling our spouses and our children “I am thankful for you” can make their days 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 others’ bad attitudes and frustrations—so a simple and sincere “thank you” truly goes a long way.
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 He desires to hear that we appreciate all His blessings and His dedication to us.
Parents love to hear their children share their gratitude and their happiness. Similarly, our Father in Heaven wants us to actively include thankfulness to Him in our thoughts, our prayers, our words, and our deeds. Even Jesus Christ gave the Father thanks for His blessings:
“And He took the seven loaves and the fish and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitude” (Matthew 15:36).
“Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them” (Matthew 26:27).
Thankfulness can be a conscious habit—and one of the most beneficial character traits that an individual can possess. Thankful people are positive lights in a troubled world—often encouraging others to be more thankful, too, 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).