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Thursday, November 28, 2013
I hope you had a delightful Thanksgiving and created some great new memories. Hopefully, you also experienced some of the physical benefits of thankfulness like relief from stress, a boosted immune system, increased alertness, enthusiasm, optimism and energy, reduced depression, improved overall health and enhanced sleep quality. The benefits of Thanksgiving makes it a holiday we can look forward to each year.
We can take the benefits of Thanksgiving gratitude and make them daily benefits. Keeping a gratitude journal is one way, by writing down only positive things. For example: “I’m grateful that I made it through the traffic safely.” “I’m grateful that I got to see a beautiful sunset.” “I’m grateful that I have a class at school that I really like.”
We can think of all the good things that happened because something bad happened first. For example: “If that slow driver hadn’t pulled in front of me, I’d have gotten a speeding ticket.” “If I hadn’t tripped on the playground, I would never have met such a nice person.” “If I hadn’t been laid off, I would never have gotten a better job.”
We can resist focusing on what we don’t have. Instead, we can focus on what we do have. For example: “I’m so blessed to have a warm place to sleep.” “I’m so blessed to live in a safe neighborhood.” “I’m so blessed to have time to relax.”
We can think about people we’ve known who have made us thankful for their existence. They can be family, friends or simply people who have created things we enjoy. Imagine how many other people there are who might be equally as wonderful. We just haven’t met them yet.
Think about people who have made life hard for us. Now, think about the things we accomplished because of them. Did you finish something because they said that you couldn’t? Did you get better at something because they made fun of you when you did it badly? Did their cruel actions make you vow never to treat others that way? Even the negative forces in our lives can be hidden blessings worthy of thankfulness.
Think about the animals that have given us joy: Dogs that love you with every inch of their hearts; cats that think your lap is the best place to nap in the whole world; birds whose songs uplift your spirit; squirrels whose antics put a grin on your face and so on.
Think about the places that make you smile: A favorite hangout, a wooded trail, an exciting city, a great spot from which to view the sky, a hill that you once rolled down. All of these are things to be thankful for.
Let others know when they’ve done something that you’re thankful for. For example: “I’ll never forget how you stuck up for me. It meant a lot.” “That email you sent really made my day.” “You make shopping here a pleasure.”
An attitude of gratitude spreads like ripples from a tossed pebble into a lake, blessing all that it touches. It also opens the windows of heaven, creating a free-flowing highway of blessings. Thankfulness is a language of love that enables us to worship our creator in a way that blesses him. When we give him thankfulness regardless of how we feel at the time, he gives us joy regardless of our circumstances.
“O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy and loving-kindness endure forever!” Psalm 118:1
Dianne Brady is an author and speaker and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.