Ever dread Thanksgiving dinner?
Yep, I’ve done that, too.
Maybe it’s because anytime a family gets together, drama is a real possibility:
Unwanted advice can be passed around as easily as the Jell-O.
Guilt is sometimes ladled out liberally, like the gravy.
Wise-cracks and barbs may pepper the main course.
And griping can make dessert bittersweet.
If this ever happens at your family get-togethers, you might dread thanksgiving this year.
Due to an ongoing situation and general frustrations, I remember really dreading Thanksgiving one year.
But I wanted to enjoy the holiday, so I decided to try something new.
I came up with this plan: why not prepare for Thanksgiving with . . . thanks giving?
After much thought, I selected the very best quality of each person who would attend our Thanksgiving dinner and wrote it down. For 10 days straight, I thanked the Lord for those good qualities, and asked the Lord to bless each person by name.
The results were amazing.
That year, our Thanksgiving table felt totally different. I found myself interested to see how the people who I’d been praying for were doing. As I greeted people, I couldn’t help but smile as their admirable qualities came to mind. Oddly, I began to notice other good qualities in my relatives; things that I hadn’t seen before.
I came away from the dinner feeling thankful:
I had a family to celebrate with—not everyone does.
While some may have gone hungry that day, we sure didn’t.
Our crowded, noisy Thanksgiving table felt festive—even joyful.
My relatives seemed so unusually cheerful and positive . . .
What had gotten into everyone?
The fact is, my family hadn’t changed. I had.
Practicing gratitude changed my entire perspective. My dread of Thanksgiving turned into unexpected joy.
Practicing daily gratitude has amazing results. It’s one of the most effective spiritual weapons out there. But practicing daily gratitude does more than just help you for the moment; it provides positive, long-term effects.
Gratitude is totally free and pretty simple to do, yet many people (like me) fail to make gratitude a daily habit, thus missing all the incredible benefits. I don’t want to overlook a single blessing this holiday season. I want to be grateful for my blessings so I can enjoy them. I hope you do, too.
So to encourage you (and me) to make gratitude our daily practice, I made the following list of benefits.
8 Benefits of Daily Gratitude:
1. Practicing gratitude is good for your health. Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and they report better overall health than other people, according to a recent study. Not surprisingly, they also found that grateful people take better care of their health. They exercise more often, eat right and are more likely to attend regular check-ups with their doctors. In a nutshell, gratitude is good medicine for the body.
2. Gratitude enables joy and thus, enjoyment. Being happy doesn’t make you grateful, but being grateful will make you happy. In fact, you can’t fully enjoy ANY of your blessings without first pausing to be grateful for them. That’s why the Bible encourages us to overflow with thanksgiving:
“Let your lives overflow with joy and thanksgiving for all he has done.” Col 2:7, TLB
3. Gratitude prevents negativity. Psychologists tell us that you can’t host conflicting emotions at the same time. This means your brain will either choose gratitude or ingratitude, but it can’t choose a little of both. So when you intentionally choose gratitude, it prevents complaining and a host of other negative attitudes.
4. Gratitude strengthens your relationships. Psychologists tell us that taking the time to be grateful everyday produces prosocial behavior within you. It makes you kinder, gentler and more forgiving of others (see this study). In other words, practicing gratitude daily makes you easier to be around. But gratitude affects more than just you. When you express appreciation to someone else, it makes that person feel valued. Expressing gratitude is incredibly bonding and will deepen your relationships.
5. Gratitude improves self-esteem. A 2014 study found that gratitude increased athletes’ self-esteem, which is essential for optimal performance. Other studies have shown that gratitude reduces social comparisons. Rather than resenting other people’s success or money—which reduces self-esteem—grateful people are able to admire other people’s accomplishments.
6. Gratitude builds emotional resilience. For years, research has shown that gratitude not only reduces stress, but it also helps you overcome trauma. A 2006 study found that Vietnam War Veterans with higher levels of gratitude experienced lower rates of PTSD. Another study found that practicing gratitude produced greater resilience after the terrorist attacks on September 11. The Bible explains gratitude’s strengthening power. It says:
“Don’t be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:6-7
7. Gratitude shifts your perspective. Practicing gratitude shifts your focus, so that you can notice beauty and value in everyday things. It shifts your heart from anxiety to peace. It shifts your mind from suffering during hardship, to learning from it. Gratitude turns whatever you have right now into enough. Daily gratitude can turn mundane work to joy, chaos into order and uncertainty into clarity.
8. Gratitude glorifies the Lord. Being grateful helps you recognize more than just your gifts; it helps you also recognize the Giver. Thanking God confirms that He is good. But God wants more than just a mere thank you. He desires gratitude from the heart. When your heart is moved by God’s goodness, when you’re in awe of who He is, it glorifies Him and it’ll lift you up, too.
This is a great theme verse for Thanksgiving:
“Obey the Lord and serve him faithfully with all of your heart. Remember the great things he has done for you.” 1 Sam. 12:24
Speaking of gratitude, I’m thankful for each one of you readers out there. It’s my privilege to write to you. Thanks for your faith and love. Thanks for taking the time to read posts about the seeking the Lord and your best life. Have a very Happy Thanksgiving!