By Hannah Brzozowski
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
If I'm being honest, this past summer was hard - and that's the understatement of the century. I'm still recovering and I don't know if I'll ever get fully past it.
Throughout, it was very difficult to be grateful for anything. I couldn't see past my present circumstance. I was blinded by the hurt that was caused. The God who allowed these things to happen. How could I thank Him when I felt so angry?
What about you? What do you do when...
You don't feel warm and fuzzy inside?
You are not in the mood?
You wake up on the wrong side of the bed?
Everyone seems to be exceptionally stupid today?
Maybe you need to hear this today:
The days we feel the least grateful are the days we need gratitude the most.
Recently, there's been an avalanche of research showing the benefits of thankfulness.
“When people are proactive about being grateful, it rewires their brain to look for positives instead of the negatives around them. Previous studies and these survey results tell us that if you want to experience an increase in life satisfaction, just express gratitude more often!” - Logan Mallory
According to Forbes, being grateful helps you be open to new relationships, improves your physical/ psychological health, reduces aggression, and it helps you sleep better.
Harvard shared about one particular study: "One group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them, and the third wrote about events that had affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative). After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation."
Just like anything, practice makes perfect. You won't all of sudden become like your grandma who is thankful for everything over night.
Here are five places to start:
1. End each day with thanksgiving.
No, I don't mean a turkey sandwich with stuffing and cranberry sauce. Although, that does sound pretty good right now.... Before you go to sleep, think about what good things happened that day and say it out loud. Today, I'm grateful for....(fill in the blank). Just pick one or two things. My husband, Nick, started this habit a few months ago and it's helped both of us to end the day on a good note. Sometimes, it's something silly like pretzel bites from our late night run to Culver's. Other days, it's more serious like our dog, Albert (I'm kidding... or am I?).
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
2. Make it a weekly practice with your family.
Every Monday, we look back on the last week and write down all of the good things that happened. We look back on pictures and our calendar to remind ourselves of what happened. If someone said something nice in a text, we'll write it out or if we get a surprise check in the mail, we'll put down the amount. This could be a fun tradition to do with your kids (if you have them) or a friend. Grab a journal from Target or better yet, get a chalk board and have it hanging up all week!
...but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your hearts to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to our God and Father. Ephesians 5:18-20
3. Write thank you notes on a monthly basis.
Why do we only write thank you notes for wedding showers or birthday parties? No hate to those types of thank you notes but it's so much better to just get a note from a friend thank you for your friendship. When's the last time you wrote a note just because? I try to do this on a monthly basis to people in our church. This helps me to be grateful for everything other people do help Anchor thrive as a church.
You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
2 Corinthians 9:11
4. Take a walk and thank God for everything good you see.
If you're in a particular sour mood, maybe what you need is a gratefulness walk. Simply walk around your neighbor hood and thank God for the changing leaves or for the sunny day or for the squirrel that's decided to make his home right outside your window. There are good things all around you. We just need to take a moment to notice them.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17
5. Don't ignore the good thoughts.
You know that feeling when you're done hanging out with a good friend? You're driving home and you think "I'm so lucky to have that person in my life." Instead of just thinking it, text them and tell them!
So often, we think encouraging thoughts and instead of telling the person. We can assume they already know. Or we're just uncomfortable with words of affirmation (*cough cough* me). It puts us in a vulnerable position. We start to think thoughts like: "What if they don't respond?" "What if that's too much?" "I don't want to make it weird." I try to text people after hanging out and let me tell you, no one has ever responded - "Wow you're such a freak." You know what they have said? "I really appreciate you too!" or "Aww thank you for hanging out!" It will help your friendship get stronger if you can appreciate them.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7
However you implement more of a grateful attitude, just do it!
If you'd like to connect more at Anchor Church, you can check out how to connect here.