Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Are you naturally producing joy and thankfulness? Philippians 4:8, in the Bible, states:
Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, Think About These Things!
Often I hear people (myself included) talk about "trying harder to be joyful or thankful." Forcing a good attitude or smile on our faces isn't fooling anybody, especially ourselves. The answer - the secret solution - to lasting joy is found in the final line of the above verse. "Think about these things" . . . think. It does not say to "feel" these things or to "do" these things or to "say" these things. We are supposed to think about these things.
In so many areas it is easy to put the focus on the external, the feeling, doing, or saying. With focus on the behavior we will see immediate results but we don't always see lasting results. It takes work to change the patterns of our thoughts. Our thoughts are always on - we produce tens of thousands of them a day. We have thoughts while we do anything and everything, including sleep. These thoughts are products of thought patterns formed throughout our lifetime. The subconscious thoughts that go through our minds today are results of hours, days, and years of thought practice.
This is a good thing, right?
It is a good thing if the thoughts we think are true, honorable, just, pure, etc. But many of us have thought practices that build negative thought patterns.
Thoughts of fear and scarcity. Thoughts of loneliness and abandonment. Thoughts of sickness and death. Thoughts of disappointment and failure.
If these are our thought patterns, what do you suppose the resulting feelings, words, and actions will be? Will these negative thought patterns allow you to be genuinely joyful and thankful?
What would it look like to take gratitude, thanksgiving, and joy and make them year-long characteristics of our lives rather than seasonal ones?
If this was natural then everyone would be full of gratitude and joy. So, if you really want this for yourself, your family, your co-workers, and anyone else you influence, then you will need a proactive action plan.
What will you do this year to produce more gratitude, thanksgiving, and joy?
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
1. Give Thanks Jar.
Write things you are thankful for throughout the year on slips of paper and put them in the jar. On Thanksgiving, read through the papers. I love the detail and stories that could be recorded in this jar. I got this idea from Becca's blog.
2. I'm Thankful for You.
This is something you would do for a specific person. Write out what you love about that person. In Darren Hardy's book, The Compound Effect, he talks about filling up a notebook for his wife for a whole year and then gave it to her as a gift for Thanksgiving. I used a pack of spiral bound 3x5 cards and did a similar concept over a shorter timeframe for my husband, Joe.
3. Gratitude Tree.
I see many families post photos of their gratitude trees during November. What about leaving the tree trunk up all year and putting up different colored leaves during different seasons? Christmas - red and green; Valentines - red, pink, and white; March - green; May - spring colors; July - red, white, and blue (for my American friends). I found a fall tree as an example on this blog link.
Whatever idea you use, please do something to promote gratitude in your own heart and for those around you. Please share your ideas below so we can encourage each other as we grow in gratitude.
(I’m Traci, the "Be Extraordinary!" blogger. I share insights that challenge and encourage moms to be the best version of themselves. To me, that’s an extraordinary life! Click HERE to receive blog updates and a free newsletter.)