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Overboard Blog

Living the extraordinary life of faith!

Happy Thanksgiving (aka: the discipline of thankfulness) (2/7)

joeacast

I’ve really enjoyed the 30 day gratitude challenge so many people are doing on facebook. I’m curious if there’s a way to measure people’s overall happiness during this month, but if facebook is any indication, people are happier. After all, when you’re committed to being thankful at the end of day, no matter what happens, it forces you to see the good in life. And I think that’s the point of thankfulness -- seeing what is good all around us.  

Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5 to “be thankful always”. That seems incredibly appropriate as we celebrate Thanksgiving. But of course, “always” means our thankfulness must occur more often than the fourth Thursday or November (or the second Monday of October for our Canadian audience members).

 

As we focus on the disciplines that make it possible to live the Overboard Life, the discipline of thankfulness is one that must be learned, relearned and mastered. “Thank you” is powerful.

 

I’m currently working through Tommy Newberry’s latest book, “40 days to a joy-filled life”. I can’t say enough about Tommy and his book, and I encourage you to pick up a copy yourself. One of the key thrusts of Newberry’s book is this: you can choose what you focus on and think about. Each day, with every thought, you have choices to make about what your mind will dwell on. You can see things with a bent towards thankfulness, or you can see things through the lens of disappointment and victimhood. Each day, you get to choose.

 

When we develop the habit of thankfulness, I think we stop doing these three things:

 

  1. Blaming others for our circumstances.
  2. Looking for excuses as to why we aren’t where we want to be.
  3. Wanting others to fail while.

 

And start doing these three things:

 

  1. See our circumstances as part of journey, and find thankfulness even when the path is hard.
  2. Choose to focus on the reality of opportunity in trials and tough times, finding thankfulness for opportunity to grow as we move towards the end destination.
  3. Celebrate others’ successes, as much as own, finding thankfulness if the journeys of fellow travelers.

 

I believe the discipline of thankfulness is a game-changer. I believe this so much I’ve intentionally moved much of my life in that direction. Several years ago I actually thought about how unthankful my prayers had been so now almost all of my prayer times begin like this: “Dear God, Thank you for....” By putting thankfulness at the beginning of my prayers, I believe I radically changed my communication with God. As much as I’m speaking to God about things I’m seeking His divine help on, I’m also mindful of the things for which I’m thankful. In fact, sometimes I start my prayers, “Heavenly Father, thank you...” and I actually pause because I wasn’t mentally ready with gratitude. The pause does me wonders, and when I think about and then express my thankfulness, my prayers are transformed.

 

Here are a few ideas to extend your thankfulness:

 

  1. Evaluate your prayer life like I did, and intentionally add thankfulness to your prayer times.
  2. Create a “Wall of Blessings” in your house. Write out the different ways God has blessed you and keep adding to it.
  3. Make a point to write five thank you cards every week (or maybe one a day).
  4. Wake up each morning and as you put your feet on the floor say, “Today, I am thankful for....” Repeat at night as you crawl into bed.

 

Do you have some ideas for developing an attitude of gratitude? Share those with us!

 

Living life out of the comfort of the boat and out on the water where Jesus is building His Kingdom is hard work and requires many different disciplines. One of those disciplines, is the discipline of thankfulness.

 

So go ahead and take the plunge, life is always better on the water!

 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.