Thanksgiving is a week away. Are you feeling like you need to work on being thankful? Just not feeling it this year? Sometimes it is so easy to see what we don’t have, but hard to focus on what we do have.
Maybe you are feeling like this has just not been your year and you’re a little depressed, you’re just not feeling thankful. Pull out your Bible and read Luke 22:14-20. This is the last supper, yet here Jesus is giving thanks. It’s the end of his life and He knows what lies ahead. He is gathered with his closest friends, yet he knows one of them will betray him. And here he is giving thanks. In the midst of all that was going on Jesus is giving thanks.
Maybe Jesus is just really thankful and it is so engrained inside of him he can find things to be thankful for no matter what the circumastance? Ultimately he knows the bread and wine come from God and He gives thanks. Knowing that God is at work he is able to give thanks.
There is another story during Lazarus’ death, Jesus arrives late and his friend Lazarus is already dead. What does Jesus do first? He gives thanks. Again he knows God is at work and is present.
As we look at our life we have to ask ourselves what do we believe about God? Do we believe that God is at work in our life? Is He present in the good times and in the bad times? If we believe that He is moving everything toward a good conclusion then that is where gratitude springs. It is not attached to the circumstances in our life.
If you are wanting to feel more thankful here are a few suggestions.
Manage your expectations. Set realistic goals. If you believe you are owed then you are setting up yourself for disappointment. We have to approach our life realistically. Instead of longing for something you’ll never get understand what you can realistically have. Understand what life looks like for you at this time. Maybe you have kids in college or aging parents? This is where you are at this season of life.
Look down the ladder not up the ladder. There will always be someone who has fancier vacations or a bigger house. If you are always looking up you will never be satisfied. Instead look around you and you will realize just how much you have to be thankful for.
Find something to get your eyes off of yourself. Sometimes all we see is what is right in front of us. We just see our stuff. Sometimes you just need to help someone else. Get into their lives and you will find your life is transformed. Focus on serving someone else. When we serve others it changes us. It can help us feel grateful and at the same time affect other people’s lives.
Appreciate the little things. We often miss the little kindnesses in our life because we are focused on the big things. Instead of thinking you have no time to enjoy coffee with a friend instead be thankful that you have someone that wants to spend time with you!
Put down your phone and engage with real people! Our phones have become such a part of our life, but what is going on in your phone is not more important than the real people in your life. Screen time will not produce happiness, relationships will. Be thankful for the people that are invested in your life. Put down your phone and engage in the people around you.
Count your blessings. Stop for a moment and just number your blessings, start with people, go to things. Remember all the blessings in the past week or month or year. My husband and I have a blessings jar. Everyday we write down a blessing for the day. At the end of the year we pour all the blessings into a pile and re-read them. Talk about feeling blessed. It really changes your perspective on gratitude.
For the next week put a piece of paper on your fridge and for the days leading up to Thanksgiving write down as many blessings as you can think of. Be thankful for a roof over your head, for your family, etc.
When you focus on the blessings in your life you will find that gratitude changes your perspective. Not feeling thankful? Focus on your blessings and on others and change your perspective.