Being thankful in all circumstances can teach you much more than you’d imagine. Sure, not everything feels good, but there’s always something you can find for which to give thanks.
Practice your Thanks-Living skills!
Here are five great lessons you can learn by being thankful:
1 – Thankfulness opens hearts.
Being thankful, regardless of the stage and state of your life, might not be easy, but it does impact those around you. During times when Rob and I have experienced less-than-optimum situations, expressing what we’re thankful for has created a connection.
Hardship can divide spouses, families, and friends, just because everyone is focused, in word and deed, on the struggle.
Expressing thankfulness draws hearts back together.
If you find yourself avoiding talking to those you love because of the issues you’re dealing with, then start with a sentence about what you’re feeling grateful for… talking about all the blessings in your life can engage everyone, and you might surprise each other at what you find yourself grateful for…
2 – Being thankful shapes the future.
Once you start discussing all the areas in which you’re thankful, you’ll begin to see where God has blessed your life in the past. And that leads to anticipating future opportunities. If your future is shaped in what you’re thankful for, it becomes easier to bounce back and get on track.
3 – Gratitude reduces want-itis.
“Gimme-gimme” and “I want, I want, I want” have become an epidemic in our western society. Being thankful for what we have combats the materialism of our culture in a healthy way. Once you notice all you actually possess and feel a sense of thankfulness, wanting extra stuff becomes less attractive.
4 – Thankfulness impacts our memories.
Memory is subjective. Two people can think back on the same experience and will have differing memories, according to their bent toward optimism or pessimism. Once an individual looks back in their history with the filter of gratitude, the memories can be wired toward optimism.
5 – Thankfulness balances a healthy sense of self.
Being thankful can increase an internal sense of self-esteem because it hones attention to where others are helping. By acknowledging you need help, which can be humbling, you also must shift to the belief that you’re a worthwhile person because someone went out of their way to help. It’s a curious cycle.
Yesterday I wrote about sticky positive thougthts and said I have Scripture verses posted to encourage my thinking. This is one that’s been very important to me:
… in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
This article about a sermon on the above Scripture is one of my recent favorites – it unpacks the idea that we don’t need to be grateful for the suffering, but rather we can be grateful in the suffering.
What sticks in your brain? Have you ever heard a melody and it kept going ’round and ’round in your head for the rest of the day (or night)? If you like the song, then that’s OK – but if you don’t… well, it can drive you batty!
And it’s the same with our thoughts. Sometimes the thoughts we think are helpful for our behavior, and sometimes they aren’t.
Wouldn’t it be good to have sticky positive thoughts going ’round our head rather than those stinky negative ones?
Sticky Positive Thoughts
Let’s get some sticky positive thoughts into our brains… Do any of these resonate with you?
I’m loved and wanted.
My time will come – I can be happy when others succeed.
As beautiful as a solo can be, a symphony has greater depth.
(In case you’re wondering, a symphony is a musical composition for a group of instruments with at least four distinct sections.)
Who is playing in your symphony?
Whistling alone might not be the best choice. Make your life interesting – embrace the opportunity to play with others. However, it’s also good to be playing your life’s symphony with a group that supports you…
So – who is in your symphony orchestra of life?
Is it time to audition a few new players?
A few places of encouragement:
To support this idea of not just whistling in an empty room, I’m participating in a writing challenge for the month of April and I thought I’d share some posts from fellow writers!
Bonnie always makes me chuckle! (I’ve been reading her posts since 2011) Everything from relationships, her grands, to trash on the beach – it’s all fodder for her way of looking at life. If you want to view Life on the Lighter Side, check out Bonnie’s post!
Kerry is a mom from my home country of Canada. She writes about being creative – this posthas a beautiful perspective. “Choosing a hobby for which you have talent is an important part of self-care.” she says. What’s your creative hobby? How do you use your creativity to glorify God?
I “met” Debi and Tom from The Romantic Vineyard when we both participated in a 30-day challenge in 2011. She continues to write about marriage, and her posts are insightful and fun – Rob and I have adopted/adapted some of her dating ideas. Debi asks, “Are you up for the challenge”? – I encourage you to explore the website and share it with your “couple-friends”!
These are only a few of the articles I’ve been reading in this symphony of online voices…
Concerned over your future – of things not working out?
There’s a simple solution: just do the next thing…
“Do it immediately, do it with prayer, do it reliantly, casting all care. Do it with reverence, tracing His hand who placed it before thee with earnest command. Stayed on omnipotence, safe ‘neath His wing, leave all resultings, do the next thing.”
“By this time, evening had come. And as it was preparation day (that is, the day before the Sabbath), Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the Council, a man who looked forward to the kingdom of God, bravely went into Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate was surprised to hear that He was already dead, so he sent for the centurion and asked him whether it was long since He died. When he heard the centurion’s report, he gave Joseph leave to take the dead body. So Joseph bought a linen sheet, took Him down from the cross, wrapped Him in the sheet and laid Him in a tomb cut out of the rock and rolled a stone against the entrance.”
Can’t you imagine the disciples and Mary and Martha and the other bewildered women, sitting in absolute dejection and perplexity when their Lord and Master and King had just died?
They couldn’t think of one single thing to do.
Here came this Godly man, who looked forward to the kingdom of God, who bravely went in and asked for the body of Jesus.
He could think of one thing to do. He did the next thing.
That must have been a tremendous cheer and encouragement to those discouraged people. “
Set yourself up for success. Choose something to pursue that will be easy to reach – at least in the beginning. And if you have a large goal in mind, then divide it into smaller bits and pieces. You are capable of SO much!
As imperfect as we all are, we do have worth. Great worth.
Did you hear me?
You have great worth.
Your self worth is not dependent on another person accepting you, affirming you, helping you, believing you, admiring you, approving of you, buying into your ideas, or not, or anything else outside of yourself.
You have great worth because you are here.
You were born for a purpose.
Even if no other human on this planet can understand that, you still have great worth. Perhaps, in this moment, even you can’t pinpoint why you were put on this earth, however, you do have great worth. I’m convinced of it… God does not make mistakes.
You are not a mistake.
You have value.
It doesn’t matter how old or young you are. Your physical appearance, perceived ability or inabilities will not have an impact on the person you’ve been designed to become. Even if you are struggling right now with horrible issues – seen or unseen – there will be a way through. There will.
Because you have great worth.
Is it hard to believe it?
Is it hard to believe you have great worth?
OK. It could be that believing in your own worth is hard at times. Maybe all the hoopla and hoorays about starting the new year fresh is painful to hear and read. Maybe you’re afraid. Perhaps you can’t see a way forward right now… (even if on the outside you’re putting up a good front. Or not.)
Alright. OK. Take a breath. And another. One more breath.
Is there someone in your life who can believe for you – can someone believe you have great worth – and do it on your behalf? Just for a bit. Can that person believe in your worth, until you’re strong enough to believe it yourself?
I believe you have great worth.
If you’re reading this, know that I’m thinking of, and writing to YOU.
Yes – you.
Don’t give up.
Put that alcohol, that drug, that 50th eclair down. You have great worth. I’ll believe it for you until you can believe it yourself. It will get better. You will make it through. The mess you feel you’re in will pass. Relationships can be renewed, rebuilt, re-imagined. Be kind to yourself. Any mistake you’ve made… God can forgive.
There is grace available. Always.
Because you have great worth.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Want to feel and explore the love of God – read this.
NOTE: is there someone in your sphere of influence who you sense is struggling? Reach out. Tell that person that they have worth – that they matter. It will make a difference. (Others did that for me – that’s how I can know.) And if they can’t believe – yet – then believe it for them.
Is he right? Maybe. Maybe not. From my personal experience, finishing is more difficult than starting… but not everyone is alike. For some it’s starting that’s a barrier. Either way, to finish anything you do need to begin.
As I write this note to you, it’s a popular time of year to start something. (New Years.) Each year I choose a particular word to focus on during that year, as opposed to resolving to do something new or different. What do you do?
Not everyone is a fan of resolutions at the beginning of the calendar year – of getting started on better ways of living because of a date on the calendar. Regardless of your opinion of resolutions, I wish you happy starting, continuing and finishing.
And just remember that anytime is a good time to start!
Happy New Year.
Is there something you’re starting, or you’ve begun that you’re keen on continuing? Leave a comment…
(For me, I’m not even starting a new “word” this year – I’m doing a second year on the word “thankful”. It feels like that’s a big enough word to last two years! )
Need some encouragment on getting started?- read this!
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
We don’t need a new year to hope for something new to begin – true hope is found in the One who makes everything new.
It’s not too late. You’re enough. You’ve done enough preparation.
(I’m cheering you on!)
Remind yourself – click HERE to download the wallpaper photo below for your smartphone.
I’ve been reading this book… and that’s what has prompted today’s post. Our inner dialogue impacts what we begin and finish. One of Neil Fiore’s suggesions when you find yourself overwhelmed by a task, perhaps feeling unequal to all the effort it’ll take, is to work on the project for a half hour, and then record on your calendar your progress. It’s part of taking credit for the work you’ve done. You’re proving to yourself that you can.
If you’re looking at your “now”, and it’s so far from what you want or what you had, it can feel discouraging. Our inner push to set goals or our outer need for achievement and affirmation can poison our current spot.
Be thankful for now.
Take care; we can get all caught up in our “dreams” and striving for what we want, that we forget there is joy right now.
It’s rare to know how much someone else is hurting…
Even if you’re standing next to them…
(Regardless – even if you’re their spouse, parent, sibling, best friend, significant other, and especially if they’re a stranger.)
That person could be feeling totally broken, but we couldn’t realize.
Make kindness a habit. Always. No matter the provocation.
A few years ago I had a heart-breaking experience with a grouchy security guard at a library in Florida. We had been traveling fulltime for a while and regularly used the WiFi at the public libraries to work during the day. This was the only library, over the space of two years, that had a “be silent” policy and a guard to back it up.
He prowled the stacks of books seeking those talking out loud or on their mobile cell phone to “shush” them with a scowl and to point to the outside door. (Yes, he found me twice – I was “that” woman.) It both humiliated me and made me grumpy too, even though I was clearly in the wrong.
At the end of the day, I sat outside on a bench waiting for Rob to pick me up. (The truck was parked a fair ways away.) I saw the grumpy guard on another bench. It was so tempting to ignore him. And yet…
Be Kind. Always. To yourself and others.
(Do you ever get those inner promptings? I do. And I’ve learned not to ignore them.)
So I got up and walked over to the grumpy guard’s bench and sat beside him. I started the conversation about the weather. (You’ll find that’s often the opening line with a Canadian… I don’t know why.) Since it was Florida in the winter, the sun was shining and warm, it was a good start. Anyway. He began to share.
He shared his whole life story with me – I guess I appeared to be a friendly ear.
He hadn’t had an easy life. And the latest blow was his cancer diagnosis.
The grumpy guard was scheduled for treatment the next week and he was afraid. He wasn’t on speaking terms with his siblings and It didn’t seem like he had a support system around him. But for those few moments, I was privileged to listen and put a hand on his arm to convey that someone cared.
He told me he believed in God, so I assured him that I would pray for him. By the time Rob pulled up in the truck I had gotten a few smiles out of that grumpy guard. I hope, with all my heart, that my kindness made a difference. Even if it was for only a few moments.
There was no way I would have known his story. And his fear, hurt, loneliness, and isolation. I’m chagrined that I just saw an old man who “shushed” me. At least at first. However, I’m not going to beat myself up – I’ve learned from that experience. Hopefully, I won’t make the same mistake again.
Looking on the bright side – can you do that? All the time?
If you’re anything like me, it takes real effort to continue to look on the bright side – regardless. But even though it takes effort, (and sometimes huge effort), it never hurts me in the long run. In fact, it makes my life better, and all those around me feel it.
Once I’ve found the “bright side”, and go with it, then other aspects where negativity could creep in seem easier to manage.
Is it simple to look for the positive in life? Not always.
Looking on the bright side even when it’s hard.
Here are some ways to encourage yourself to focus on what’s good in a circumstance:
Express your thankfulness in a concrete way: words, or actions.
Take time to ponder. We allow the rush of life to overwhelm us and by default the place we end up is negative. Use a timeout to process what’s going on. Prayer always helps me.
Make a pro and con list on paper. (or your computer) Seeing the issues in black and white will often clarify those nebulous clouds of gloom and doom. Talk it through with a trusted friend. A person who loves you can see situations differently. Neither of you is right or wrong. Sometimes it’s good to have a discussion to see another’s view.
Get out of your own way. In the Lead Like Jesus Encounter, there’s a part called “Ego’s Annonymous”. It’s designed to help the participants recognize we all struggle every day with pride and fear – it’s an addiction. As a Christian, I see EGO as “edging God out”. Most times, at least for me, when I can’t find the bright side that’s at the root.
How about you?
What techniques do you use to successfully find your positive place?
PositiveThanksLiving is about being strategically optimistic – not just pie-in-the-sky everything is perfect. Living as an optimistic and thankful person takes work – but it’s worth it!
A few ways to look on the bright side – even when it’s hard. Be strategically optimistic.