If you find gratitude when you don’t feel thankful, it changes your focus no matter your circumstances.
Think back over the last year.
How would you answer this:
What am I better at today than I was a year ago?
Don’t be modest. No one can read your mind. Take a minute. What are you better at today than you were a year ago? It doesn’t have to be a visible skill like yoga, painting, or cooking. It can be. Or how about the invisible ones: Have you grown in your ability to hold your tongue? Have you increased your skill at taking negative thoughts captive? Do you go out of your way to love your husband? What are you better at today than this time last year (whether the pandemic forced you to get better or whether you went there voluntarily).
What material object do you use every day that you are thankful for?
Something small. Something large. Don’t skip past this. Pick something and smile at its value in your life.
Two more questions and a little “homework”:
- What has someone done for me recently that I am grateful for?
Stop and think. It took effort, focus, and care on their part. Jot it down. Your homework? Give them a call or drop them a note. What is one thing someone did for you?
- Think about a person you don’t speak to often, but it would be devastating if you lost them tomorrow.
Your homework here: Good guess. Reach out. Don’t wait. 2020 taught many of us that we are not guaranteed a tomorrow with those we love. I know this because we had to say good-bye to Mom in April.
For many reasons, 2020 seemed like a dud of a year, and I don’t feel thankful for much of it. How about you?
But I’m choosing to be more focused on gratitude than ever before. I have so much to be grateful for, including our two new grandchildren.
However, maybe you and your family are struggling. If that’s true, it’s harder to be grateful. Harder, but not impossible, and the effort it takes could reap tremendous benefits.
Today, you and I can choose to discover new ways to enjoy life in the moment.
We often live in the past or the future but miss what’s happening around us now.
Instead of focusing on what you don’t have or can’t do, try something new. You can create fun and thankful moments, even in your current situation.
Parents, do these with your kiddos; husbands and wives, take the time to be youthful together.
- Go for a walk or bike ride.
- Learn a new craft.
- Write letters, including hand-drawn pictures for grandparents.
- Build a fort in your living room, dining room, or family room and have a picnic meal.
- Spend ten minutes a day reading aloud together or pick a book to read a chapter a day.
- Plan a movie and popcorn night.
- Make playdough together.
- Make cookies and deliver them to neighbors with a note attached. Hint: put the package on the doorstep, ring the bell, and step away. I bet you’ll get some lovely smiles and thank you’s.
- Play some classic games like Twister, Go Fish, Yahtzee, Candy Land.
- Dream about your next vacation and see how it lifts your spirits.
We need to switch our mindsets.
Gratitude helps us do that, as does prayer. I pray to connect with my Creator, who made me perfectly—depression and all. And He heals me—depression and all. I write or sing my prayers to God. And, sometimes, I speak them aloud. Hearing the powerful words lifts my spirits and realigns my focus. I love praying this prayer of gratitude.
Will you join me in this prayer?
I lift you high in praise, my God, O my King!
and I’ll bless your name into eternity.
I’ll bless you every day,
and keep it up from now to eternity.
God is magnificent; he can never be praised enough.
There are no boundaries to his greatness.
Generation after generation stands in awe of your work;
each one tells stories of your mighty acts.
Your beauty and splendor have everyone talking;
I compose songs on your wonders.
Your marvelous doings are headline news;
I could write a book full of the details of your greatness.
The fame of your goodness spreads across the country;
your righteousness is on everyone’s lips.
God is all mercy and grace—
not quick to anger, is rich in love.
God is good to one and all;
everything he does is suffused with grace.
Creation and creatures applaud you, God;
your holy people bless you.
They talk about the glories of your rule,
they exclaim over your splendor,
Letting the world know of your power for good,
the lavish splendor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is a kingdom eternal;
you never get voted out of office.
God always does what he says,
and is gracious in everything he does.
God gives a hand to those down on their luck,
gives a fresh start to those ready to quit.
All eyes are on you, expectant;
you give them their meals on time.
Generous to a fault,
you lavish your favor on all creatures.
Everything God does is right—
the trademark on all his works is love.
God’s there, listening for all who pray,
for all who pray and mean it.
He does what’s best for those who fear him—
hears them call out, and saves them.
God sticks by all who love him,
but it’s all over for those who don’t.
My mouth is filled with God’s praise.
Let everything living bless him,
bless his holy name from now to eternity!
When we were in the worst of the recovery from porn addiction and depression, I didn’t feel thankful.
Our Thanksgiving holiday was a bit rough. I remember wondering how I could be thankful IN the mess we were experiencing. Yet, as I read the Psalms and consciously chose to look toward God, I felt lightened. No, my immediate circumstances didn’t change because we still had to slog through the mess toward hope and healing.
If you find yourself struggling to find gratitude when you don’t feel thankful this season, please reach out.
I offer a listening heart, no judgment, and a promise to point you to the One who restores our hope with His love, grace, and mercy.
Still struggling to find gratitude in your current circumstances? Here are some bonus questions:
Some additional thought-starters from the Harvard Business Review:
- What have I recently learned that has helped me grow?
- What opportunities do I currently have that I am grateful for?
- What physical abilities do I have but take for granted?
- Who am I happy to see each day and why?
- What did I see today or over the last month that was beautiful?
- What are the three things I am grateful for right now?