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Developing a Spirit of Thankfulness 3: Cultivating Thankful Habits

Developing a Spirit of Thankfulness Day 3 – Cultivating Thankful Habits

Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! (1 Chronicles 16:8, ESV)

What shall I render to the LORD for all his benefits to me? (Psalm 116:12, ESV)

I’m currently on a journey toward a greater sense of mindfulness in my life habits and practices. Every two weeks, I’m assigned a new challenge that is meant to bring careful attention to an area of life I may often overlook but is beneficial to my physical, emotional, or spiritual health. Because the program I’m on isn’t faith-based, I was surprised when my most recent challenge was to spend a few minutes each day reflecting on three things I’m grateful for. I can write these three things in a gratefulness journal, or simply mentally reflect on them, and then incorporate them into prayer. This habit is linked to wellness as it establishes the good things we enjoy in life, and turns the focus away from negativity or discomfort.

I’ve really enjoyed this challenge; each day, three people or personal blessings come to mind, and I spend some time thinking on them and then being thankful for them. The truth is that we won’t just fall into being grateful people; we will need to cultivate gratefulness within ourselves by habitually practicing it. So today’s area of focus is this: How can you cultivate thankfulness into your daily routine—and are you willing to do it?

Probably the simplest (and possibly the most effective) way to do it is to set aside time each day to reflect on your blessings. Like the program I’m working on, you can choose a target number for each day, and then make that your goal for reflection. If you love writing in journals, write them down! Later in life, you can look back on your entries and enjoy reading the things that touched your heart in this season. Life won’t always look the way it does today; days ahead may be easier or they may be more challenging. You won’t always have the things that bring you joy today, so be thankful for the time you have with those you love or the possessions you currently enjoy.

If you aren’t much of a writer, you can quietly reflect on the things you’re thankful for. Find a quiet place and make it a part of your daily routine to list them and thank God for them. The shower is a great place for this, or maybe during your commute to work or back home. The point is to incorporate this into your schedule at a time of day when you’ll be still, distraction free, and available. The more you do it, the more you’ll make it a habit, and you’ll soon realize how much you’ve been given.

As we begin focusing more on the things we are thankful for, negative thought patterns won’t have the same hold on us. We can easily fall into a bad habit of ruminating on our trials and worries, weighing us down, but we must choose to push our minds to a place of gratefulness by naming a few blessings, and then focusing on them instead. This will cultivate a spirit of thankfulness in us, and will also dismantle thoughts of jealousy, cynicism, and negativity.

As we move forward in life, may we adopt this pattern of thankfulness into our everyday lives. Thankful people are cheerful people, people others enjoy being around. Thankful people are also people that others take notice of—and they want to know your secret. This opens the door to conversations that give us opportunities to tell them about the Source of our thankful spirit—Jesus! May we be willing to put in the effort to take notice of our blessings, and then thank God and the ones who enrich our lives for how they have made ours so much better!

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

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