If there’s one thing I love about November, it’s this: Thanksgiving.
Nowadays, we jump right from Halloween into Christmas. Sure, we gather with loved ones for a Thanksgiving meal and football, and most of us enjoy a long weekend off work as part of the holiday, but do we really make time for this day set apart to focus on the people and things we’re most grateful for in life? Or do we rush through it all and get caught up in the hustle and bustle, mess and stress of the season’s activities?
I’m asking myself this question too.
As much I love the Christmas season, and am known to get all of my holiday shopping done by the end of November, the past few years I have been making a concentrated effort to focus on those things in life that I am thankful for in the weeks and days leading up to Thanksgiving. There is so much that comes at me (all of us, for that matter) in a day. We live under constant pressure, demands, deadlines, bad news, and countless challenges, whether it’s in our homes, workplaces, relationships, etc. It’s easy to get bogged down and burned out from all the things that threaten to steal our joy.
But there exists a key to combating this: PRACTICING GRATITUDE.
Ann Voskamp says …
Expressing our gratitude and offering our thanks doesn’t necessarily mean that life gets easier, but it does change our perspective for the better. When we are able to see the good in the midst of the bad, the grace in the midst of the struggle, the light in the midst of the dark, joy and peace enter our hearts and provide us assurance that we have purpose and all that we’re going though contributes to the greater story that is our life. When we take a ‘time out’ at the end of the day and allow ourselves to think of even just one thing we can be grateful for, we accomplish a small victory. Increase this to finding three things a day to be thankful for, and experience even more victory.
In 2013, I challenged myself to count 1,000 gifts. At the end of every day, I wrote down three things I was grateful for in a journal. Some days were easier than others, but I stuck with it, and ended up counting well over 1,000 gifts in the course of a year. Being intentional in practicing gratitude showed me that no matter what came my way, I could always find something to be thankful for. A sunrise. A sunset. A smile. A note. Food in the fridge. A roof over my head. Clothes on my back. The love of a good man. The love of a great and mighty God. Family. Friends. A job. A car. The list goes on and on.
So in this season of thanks, let’s be grateful. Let’s be surprised by what our exercise in expressing gratitude teaches us. And as this process changes us, let’s be people who spur others on to find the good, each and every day. We will never know the possibilities of doing so until we decide to start. So let’s make today, and the days leading up to Thanksgiving, an opportunity to be transformed through the lens of gratitude.