A while back, my husband and I went to dinner with another couple. The conversation started as usual. We caught up on our kids, work, and life in general. Then the conversation got a little deeper. This husband was going through a difficult season and was searching for the answer to happiness. He mentioned that he read some books and did some research online. Finally, he found an answer that intrigued him. Before he revealed what struck him, he went around the dinner table and asked what we thought the answer to happiness was.
I was asked first. I didn’t know the answer. I explained that growing up we didn’t have much. This wasn’t a bad thing, in fact, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. It helped shape my perspective and made me even more grateful for things. When I was thankful for what I DID have, I was happy. My answer was based on personal experience.
After we all talked, he told us what he found in his research. Apparently, thankfulness was the key to happiness.
Now I don’t remember where his source came from. We all have different opinions on the answer to happiness. However, I do believe that if we’re grateful, we’re content. We’re fulfilled. We take the focus off what we don’t have, onto what we DO have.
The more we stop and recognize all the good God is orchestrating in our lives right now, the less we dwell on other things.
I’ll be the first to admit, a grateful heart was easier to have as a kid. When you’re adulting in life, you have to be more intentional, that’s for sure! It’s easy to get caught up into the things we desire, and it’s easy to take everyday things and people for granted.
It’s also difficult to give thanks during difficult seasons. That’s ok. We’re all human and we’re not perfect. These are the times that giving thanks will benefit our hearts the most. It sure was difficult to give thanks after our son’s surgery last year. His recovery wasn’t going smooth and this momma’s heart was a mess. But I was thankful for those that prayed and encouraged us, thankful for the hospital staff, and so much more.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”–Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV)
So, what are a couple of practical ways we can be intentional in giving thanks?
- Start with the little things.
If we get into the habit of giving thanks daily, our perspective will eventually transform into one of gratitude. It will be a little easier to give thanks without thinking about it, even during difficult circumstances.
This can be as easy as writing one thing in a journal or planner, giving yourself a minute to make a mental note, and of course, giving thanks to God for whatever you’re thankful for.
- Say “thank you”.
Set an example by expressing your gratitude to someone else. Most people appreciate when they are acknowledged for something. This in turn, can create a chain reaction. This especially goes a long way when you thank someone for something specific, it can be big or small. Don’t throw around thanks just to mark it off your list, be genuine in your “why”.
You can say it, text it, email it, write a thank you card and drop it in the mail. Handwritten notes are priceless.
“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”– Colossians 3:15-17 (ESV)
With school beginning this month, pumpkin spice everywhere you turn, and fall around the corner (Please, God, bring us Texans some fall weather before Christmas! We’ll thank you so much for it!) … in the blink of an eye it will be Thanksgiving! Let’s not wait until it actually rolls around to start thinking about what we’re thankful for. Let’s remember to give thanks in the little things. Every day.
And thank you for taking the time to read this post!