The month of November brings about a flood of posts on Social Media announcing what people are thankful for. I am one of those. This month is a time to focus on the gratefulness we feel all year.
The focus this month reminds us of the need to be grateful each moment. Years ago I heard about a woman who was keeping a gratitude journal to refocus her mind from worry and anxiety to positive thoughts and thankfulness. At the time my thoughts were negative and my hope drained. What did I have to lose? I began a thankfulness journal.
The first entry was extremely difficult. I am thankful for… I waited for something to come to mind. Being alive? I had no hope or purpose, was I thankful I was alive? Yes but not in a way that was happy or purposeful. Having a roof over my head? I would be happier living in a box on a beach. Food in the fridge? I would rather be eating out. Was I really this ungrateful? Yes, more than I ever dreamed I could be.
Being seen as a happy person doesn’t always equal the thoughts that rattle around inside someone’s head.
Negative thoughts of self-worth.
Worry and anxiety.
Failure and ungratefulness.
Swirling from one thought to another while a smile is worn.
The exercise of writing in a thankfulness journal began a new thought pattern. The first entry came. I am thankful for the earth.
The next day, the sky.
Then, the sun.
A bird, seen flying by.
The laughter of my kids.
A few weeks in, I wrote that I was thankful for life. My heart was changing along with my thoughts. I found myself looking for positive things throughout the day to write in my journal. My heart was softening. My focus was changing. There were five changes in my thankful thoughts.
- Being thankful made me realize my life was better than I thought it was. Life was better than I deserved in response to the attitude I was forcing on everyone in my life. Gratitude doesn’t come naturally to some. I was one. However, I forced myself to focus on the things around me. With a discerning eye, we see the value of them differently.
- Being thankful helps us see the beauty in the world. When you are looking for things to be thankful for you happen upon beauty you may have never seen. Even in the mirror. “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well,” (Psalm 139:14).
- Being thankful increases our faith. “‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:25-26)
- Being thankful gives us hope. “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,’” (Jeremiah 29:11).
- Being thankful creates a giving spirit. “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love,” (Ephesians 4:2).
Focusing on gratitude creates a heart of thankfulness each and every day of our lives. Start a gratitude journal today with one small thing you are thankful for around you. Then, each day, dig a little deeper.
Today, I am thankful for you, my friend. Thank you!