Get an Attitude of Gratitude
by Michelle Medlock Adams
“A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all the other virtues.” (Cicero)
It’s almost that time of year again. Time to wear those elastic-waist pants and enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixings! But, before you dive into Mom’s candied sweet potatoes, take a moment to reflect on your many blessings.
You might even go around the table and ask every person to give thanks for something. Or, if you can’t be with your extended family this year due to COVID restricting travel or the size of family gatherings, why not volunteer at your local soup kitchen and serve others this Thanksgiving?
Make new memories with your immediate family. Play boardgames. Watch old family movies. Take a hike. Eat Grandma’s famous pecan pie (You can hit the treadmill later!). But more than anything, take time to thank God for His goodness and mercies that are new every morning.
And, guess what?
You don’t have to wait until Thanksgiving to give God praise…
Be Thankful All Year Long
When my daughters were 3 and 4, it was difficult to find any time for myself. But I felt certain I was supposed to attend a women’s conference in a neighboring city, so I arranged for childcare and off I went. As I sat in that first session, I felt my heart pounding as the speaker’s words washed over me. The theme? “Have a Grateful Heart.” I realized as she spoke that I hadn’t been very grateful. Instead of praising God for the blessings in my life, I was focusing on the things I didn’t have. And it was ugly. I repented and asked God to change my heart. Then, in the second session, the speaker challenged us to do something every day to practice gratefulness. Her suggestion? Keep a “Journal of Gratitude.” As a writer, I loved the idea of journaling, so I began keeping a “Journal of Gratitude” that very day, and it changed my life.
It continues to do so.
Over the years, I haven’t journaled every day, but I’ve been faithful to keep track of the many ways God has blessed me. Twenty-five years and dozens of journals later, I have jotted down small praises to big blessings. As I read over those journals, I am instantly overcome with gratefulness all over again. One entry reads: Thank You, God, for giving me favor today when the woman in front of me in line offered me her extra coupon so that I could save 25 percent off my total purchase. What a savings! What a blessing! Another entry says: I am so thankful, Lord, for Your goodness and mercy. Thank You for always being right on time! I was so worried I wouldn’t be able to attend the Write-to-Publish Conference this year due to a lack of funds, and then today, a $500 check arrived in the mail for a writing contest I don’t even remember entering! It’s the exact amount I needed! You are so good, God! I am so grateful! Thank You so much!
As I began keeping track of the many ways God blessed me, gratitude became a lifestyle. I looked for opportunities to give God praise. Some days, I would simply praise Him for another day with my precious daughters, singing silly songs on the way to gymnastics. Other days, I’d praise Him for the beautiful sunshine that poured into our family room. What I discovered was this—when you’re looking for reasons to praise God, your entire perspective changes. I learned that you can’t complain and praise at the same time. I found that my heart was much happier, making me a better wife, a better mom, a better employee and a better friend. And most importantly, I discovered that keeping a gratitude journal caused me to grow closer to my heavenly Father.
So, I challenge you to start your own “Journal of Gratitude” and look for small and big ways that God blesses you every single day. Don’t wait until Thanksgiving to be thankful. Start today!
Here are three additional things you can do to practice gratefulness:
- Write One Thank-you Note Each Day: Write a quick thank-you note to someone every single day—a boss, a colleague, a relative, a friend, your pastor, etc.
- Send Thanksgiving Cards: Instead of sending the typical Christmas letter this year, why not use your energy to write Happy Thanksgiving cards and send those out this month? You can start your cards with something like this: “At this time of year, we pause to count our blessings…Consider yourself counted.”
- Meditate on these Scriptures: Read over these Scriptures each day and maybe even memorize them.
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15 (NIV)
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” 1 Chronicles 16:34 (NIV)
“Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.” 1 Chronicles 29:13 (NIV)
“Therefore I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing the praises of your name.” 2 Samuel 22:50 (NIV)
“Praise the Lord. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him!” Psalm 147:1 (NIV)
So, go ahead. Make thankfulness a lifestyle! Get an attitude of gratitude! Meditate on God’s Word, and give Him praise every chance you get!
Michelle Medlock Adams is an award-winning journalist and bestselling author of more than 100 books with close to 4 million copies sold. When not working on her own assignments, Michelle ghostwrites articles, blog posts, and books for celebrities, politicians, and some of today’s most effective and popular ministers. She and her husband, Jeff, share their home in Southern Indiana with a miniature dachshund, a rescue Greyhound/Lab mix, and two cats. To learn more, check out her website at: www.michellemedlockadams.com online.
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