5 Tips for Learning to Live a Life of Thanksgiving

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The ability to be thankful.  It is one of the hallmarks of life.

Still, sometimes we don’t feel thankful.  Perhaps as first glance we find no reasons why we could possibly be thankful.

We must remember that thanksgiving is a choice.  It is a key virtue for those who choose to be thankful.

Yesterday, I was having a conversation with a 46 year old man.  He’s moved a dozen times in the last ten years because he does not own his own home.  This is the third time in the last ten years that his wife has moved out and taken some of the kids.  Right now, he lives with his twelve year old daughter, and his wife has the two younger sons.

He was, understandably, talking about how hard life is.

And then, almost out of nowhere, he said, “One good thing about her is that she is faithful.  Every time she’s left me, she’s never gone to another man.”

That humbled me.  It humbled me because in the midst of the turmoil of life and marriage, he decided to look for a way he could compliment his wife.  He found something for which to be thankful.

Soon the calendar will require our thankfulness.  Our constitutional duty will be to be thankful.

But what do we do if we’re not?

Tips for Learning to Be Thankful

1.  You’ll find what you’re looking for.

There have been many times when I’ve asked people, “How was it?” I’m referring to some event I couldn’t attend.  Some friends will have a glowing review of all the great things about the event.  Others will share the many ways where the evening was far from perfect.

Negative people find problems.  Positive people find reasons for thankfulness.

2.  Use the “True, but” technique.

When you find yourself in a rut of negativity, you can affirm that those things are true, but be prepared to counteract those ideas or thoughts with something positive.  Do your best to finish off a discussion or even a thought process with something positive.

For example:

  • “I’m finding it difficult to pay all my bills.  But, at least I’ve got enough to keep the heat and power on.”
  • “My spouse is really not very supportive of me, but he/she does treat me with respect.”

3.  Count your many blessings.

If you start feeling blue, just get out a sheet of paper and write down every way you are blessed.  By doing this, you’re training yourself to find good things.  At first it might take you five minutes to write down a good thing.  The second idea might come at the four minute mark.  Still, slowly the blessings in your life will come more and more quickly.

4.  Trust.

Sometimes in life there isn’t much to be thankful for.  Sometimes that is even part of God’s will for our lives.

The story is told of a man who went to visit a village, but no one would keep him in the village. So he went to sleep outside of the area.

He started a fire to keep himself warm, but a wind came and blew out his fire.

He only had one rooster with him, but in the night a wolf came and carried off the rooster.

Just before morning, an army came and destroyed the village.  However, since he was outside of town, his life was spared.  Since his fire was out, he was not seen.  Since there was no rooster there to make noise, he was silently undetected.

God may be using difficulty to help you, serve you, and prepare you.  Bad news can indeed turn into good news.

5.  Celebrate.

I’ll let you in on a deep dark secret of mine.  I’m usually not that crazy about going out and doing things with people.  My hermit-like reclusive nature is often content with being at home.

My wife, however, spends her days at home with the kids and loves getting out to do things with others.

Almost without exception, when I’ve gone out to be with people, I really enjoy myself.

Sometimes when were struggling to be thankful, we just need to get out and celebrate.  That could mean spending time with your family, or spending time with friends.

It means putting yourself in a situation where you can experience the goodness of God.

What do you do when giving thanks doesn’t come easy for you?

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