So I’ve been brainstorming ideas on how to help you and me develop habits of thankfulness, and have come up with a list of some I’ve done before, others I’ve heard about, and others I’ve just thought of.
I suggest choosing one to three (or think of your own) that you would like to try this October.
Then make them your goals. Write them down somewhere where you will see them and also talk with a friend about them. Ask your friend to check in with you every week to how it’s going (accountability is really helpful for making progress in our goals).
If you have any other ideas for building habits of thankfulness, I’d love to hear them. Share them with the group by writing them in the comment section at the bottom of this page!
And don’t forget to write your goals on the main page, if you like–I’d so love to read them and pray for you about them.
Ideas on How to Increase in Thankfulness:
1.Create a Thankfulness Journal
This can just be an ordinary notebook or clipboard with some paper, or a more fancy notebook, if you like. Challenge yourself to really notice and write down as many of God’s gifts to you as possible.
a. Maybe carry it around with you for one day (or maybe many more) and set a timer for every hour or so. Every time the timer goes off, if you can, pray and think about what is good around you–gifts can be physical, spiritual, emotional, relational, etc. Write as much down as you can. At the end of the day, review your journal entries for the day, and thank God for them.
b. You can also simply take the time every evening to write down 3 good things about each day, and thank God for them.
2. Create a “This Past Year’s Gifts” List or a “Future Gifts” Thanks List
a. Write down as many good things as you can about the last year so far. This could take awhile, so you may want to stretch this out over a few days or so.
b. Or, if you prefer, create a collage of pictures that you cut out or draw that represent many of the gifts you’ve received this past year so far. Remember, these gifts can be physical, but they can also be emotional, relational, spiritual, experiences, etc.
c. Decide to take time to thank God AHEAD of time for answers to your prayers that He is going to give, for the good plans He has for your life that will take place, and for the good gifts He will give you in the coming days, weeks, months, and years. This helps you celebrate WHO He is as a Giver or Good Gifts and builds your relationship of trust with Him (as well as helps you notice when the good gifts do come, rather than see them as coincidence.)
3. Read Ann Voskamp’s book: One Thousand Gifts.
It is a poetically written story of her life, so it takes more time to read than some other books would, but I think that’s a good thing because it helps us digest what she is saying and trying to help us understand about the power and transformation in her life of noticing and thanking God for His gifts.
4. Thanksgiving Celebrations
Whether your country celebrates Thanksgiving or not, you can do some of these things below. Whether you’d like to celebrate a Thanksgiving Day in October (like we Canadians) or November (like Americans), you can still start planning/preparing now:
a. Create a Thankfulness Tree.
This can be a small tree branch you set in a large vase or a poster of a tree you put on the wall (or something else?). Create some colourful leaves with cardstock and cut them out. Then, all through out the month, or perhaps just on the day or week of Thanksgiving, write out some things you are thankful for on each leaf and hang them on the tree. You can invite others (such as family members, friends, or others you invite for Thanksgiving) to write what they are thankful for on the leaves and hang them up as well. You might even want to do this at supper time each day or once a week. On Thanksgiving Day, have someone go to the tree and read off the gifts and then pray together and thank God for them.
b. Decorate the house (or just a small area) with things that remind you to be thankful. For example, maybe you want to put up a printable that reminds you to give thanks. You could also write out the verse: James____: Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of Lights. If you want to decorate with pumpkins and squash and that kind of thing, go for it, too.
c. Think about who you could invite to celebrate Thanksgiving with you. I suggest thinking of an immigrant to your country or an international student, who may not be used to celebrating Thanksgiving Day. Include them in the festivities and watch both your joy and theirs increase. You could also invite friends and take time to truly talk about what you are thankful for this year.
5. When it seems hard to be thankful because of difficult times or other reasons, try these things:
a. Write down what the situation that is tempting you to grumble. Be honest and write what it is and how you feel. But then write “BUT” and write a positive side to this situation. At the very least, this situation could help you grow in character and thankfulness no matter what the circumstances, but there usually are other positive sides as well.
Here is an example, “Having a pre-schooler makes quiet time harder to come by. This frustrates me sometimes because I miss being able to steal away for quiet time practically when I like. BUT this is motivating me to discipline myself to get up earlier to get quiet time, and therefore I get more done throughout the day. My preschooler also spreads joy and teaches me more about God through His fun and crazy antics”.
b. Create or buy an inexpensive bracelet to remind you to give thanks. When you are tempted to grumble, ask God for help you think about the good and to thank Him anyways. The neat things about your “sacrifices of thanksgiving” (giving thanks when you don’t feel like it) is that they often pave the way for something good to happen. The Lord loves to hear us thank Him in faith and loves to reward that in good time.
6. Some More Ideas:
a. Take a day to challenge yourself to say thanks to the Lord as much as possible. Try saying over and over in your mind (or at times out loud) “Thank you. God!”, “I love you, God” “I praise you, God”. Real feelings of thanks can well in your heart as you do this and it can help you notice the good around you much more.
b. Take time out once a week to go on a walk (or so) and simply thank the Lord the whole time you do so. If it’s been a difficult year, as God to help you think about what He did give you and for help thanking Him. Thank Him for how he’s helped you in the past and how he’s going to help you. Be honest about your feelings, but also take lost of time to thank Him for what you think IS good about your life. As Him to help you notice them.
c. Play praise music and sing, dance, or simply let your heart sing along as you thank God for who He is and the new life He’s given you. Ask Him for help understanding who you now are in Him and living it out in joy.
d. Give a “Thank Offering” to spread your gifts around. Perhaps donate some money to a wonderful cause in your country or around the world. Help some people who are in great need, such as enduring famine. Thank God as you write your cheque for the money he’s provided for you and for the things you will do through your gift for others and even the ways He’ll bless you for giving it.
Got other ideas? Write them below! 🙂