8 Meaningful Ways to Practice Gratitude

The more I think about gratitude, the more I realize it is one of the best ways of demonstrating our faith in God all year long.

1 Thessalonians tells us to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.”

Gratitude is a mindset to be cultivated. The more you focus on gratitude … the more you truly seek to give thanks in all things … the more it becomes ingrained in your mind and your lifestyle. Le

Here are some ideas for helping you and your family cultivate and train your minds to be more grateful:

1. At dinner, see if your family can collectively think of 10 things you are grateful for. Keep a running list or make a new list each night.

2. Type out a few texts, emails or even a hand-written thank-you note to express gratitude to someone who you appreciate and value. This would be good for kids, too, even though they’ll likely complain initially! Or write a thank-you letter or email to someone in your past who had a significant influence in your life. Perhaps a high school coach or teacher, or a small-group leader, or a friend or relative who did something special for you.

3. Drop a small note in your son, daughter, or husband’s lunch—or put a sticky note where they’ll find it at just the right time. You might say, “When I think of what I’m thankful for, you always come to mind. I love you. Or, Thank you for the ways you __. I love you so much.”

4. Read aloud a Psalm of thanksgiving to your family every day before school or during dinner. Here are a few: Psalms 89, 92, 95, 100, and 111.

5. Try to genuinely thank people who help and serve you throughout the day: the librarian, the cashier, the waitress, the janitor in the restroom, the Sunday School teacher, airport security agents. And whenever possible, make sure your children see you do it. Dennis started doing this a few years ago ago and watching him has motivated me to notice the many people in service jobs who are usually overlooked. Thanking them is actually fun! They are often genuinely surprised and smile in return.

6. Take a hard look at your media habits. Are there any television shows or online news outlets that consistently make you fearful or despondent or cynical? How about the articles or books you read, or the websites you visit?  If you or your spouse discerns this content is stealing your joy and hope or gratitude, ask God if this is what He wants for your soul. Then think hard about cutting back or even cutting it out.

7. On the back of an interior door, post a piece of poster board and keep a pen attached with adhesive Velcro. Make it a family goal to fill the poster with the objects of your gratitude. Or start a “blessings journal” for yourself and for your family. Make it a goal to write and remember at least one way God blesses you each the day. Even recognizing God in ordinary things like seeing a rainbow or watching your toddler’s admiration for a caterpillar is evidence of God at work.

8. Write a list of circumstances in your life that concern you. Then thank God for each item on the list knowing that you  are obeying the command to “Give thanks in all circumstances.”

Gratitude is contagious. The more you cultivate it in your life, the more you’ll see others follow your lead!

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