Gratitude – A Key To Happiness
Returning kindness as gratitude, may it never befall us. As Thanksgiving season approaches each year, where is your focus? Often there is much focus on last-minute grocery lists, turkeys, and pumpkin pies. Or if you travel to your family, it’s all about packing, flight times, and arrangements for pets. For some, most of your energy and excitement is already pushing toward that next holiday in December, with Christmas music and decorations already hovering in the background. However, Thanksgiving offers families across the nation a chance to slow down and participate in simple rituals of reflection and gratitude, a practice that can be a balm to hurting souls.
Whether we are hurting from discontent, tragedies, broken relationships, or failures, the practice of gratitude and a thankful attitude can bring about much good.
“We would worry less if we praised more. Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction.” ― H.A. Ironside
Ways to Practice Gratitude
- Display a “thankfulness tree” in your home during the month of November. Gather branches to put in a vase, and use gift tags to write down things your family is grateful for and decorate the branches like ornaments.
- Make a list of 10 things that have happened this year that you’re grateful for as a family, then share and discuss them. If this becomes a yearly tradition, keep a notebook or scrapbook of what you’ve written down.
- Draw names out of a hat, and write a thank-you note to that person. You could even include extended family or close friends.
- Encourage your kids to write a thank-you letter to a teacher, coach, Sunday school teacher, a veteran, or local policeman/fireman.
Those who celebrated the first Thanksgiving nearly 400 years ago found themselves closing out a difficult year. Half their company had died, sickness abounded, food supplies were still unstable, and they were thousands of miles away from all that was comfortable and familiar. And yet their response was to pause, show gratitude, and celebrate.
We can take a cue from the Pilgrims and Indians all those centuries ago. No matter what kind of year we’ve had, there is also reason to pause and show gratitude. It’s true we never know what a year will hold. The year 2016 has been no exception, unfolding its share of heartache, division, and tragedy.
So don’t miss these reverent, quiet moments to give thanks and hold a little closer what is precious to us. And not only hold a little closer, but to actually say those thankful words that we too often keep in our heads. Instead of driving past this holiday and taking a quick glance at it, like a passing scenic stop off the highway, take the time to park and get out of the car. Take in all that Thanksgiving has to offer. Savor every minute with your family, and create special “thankful” traditions that you can build on for years to come.