opinion | Five ways to exercise your thankfulness muscles

Thomas Wingfield, the title character in George MacDonald’s novel, says, “Even in this humble atmosphere, there is something that has roots deeper than your pain; that, it’s all about us, in earth and air, wherever an eye or ear can reach, there is a force that breathes of its own accord.” In the signs, now in a chrysanthemum, now in a gust of wind, a cloud, a sunset, a force that bears a firm and sweeter relationship with the dark and silent world within us.”

Thanksgiving quietly asks us to practice the humble love that makes up each of our lives, so that we may take time to note the enduring and most beautiful relationship that the giver of every good gift offers.

Feeling grateful does not always occur naturally. Gratitude is something like a muscle we can exercise. Just as we can cultivate ingratitude, entitlement, bitterness, or cynicism, we can foster gratitude, appreciation, humility, delight, and joy. To that end, here are some practical ways to cultivate gratitude this Thanksgiving and throughout the year:

1. Keep the lists. Look back in a day or a week, and write down as many things as you can think of that you received as a gift – things as essential as a breather or as trivial as a good parking space. In a terrible week, you can list moments of light in the midst of darkness. On a good week, take the time to celebrate each blessing.

My best high school friend kept a list on her bedroom wall of the things that gave her joy: swirled tortilla chips, swimming, and inside jokes. Nicole RocaThanksgiving magazine It is a resource that encourages writing a list of daily thank you phrases for three consecutive years.

2. Write thank-you notes. I’ll be honest here because I hate writing thank-you notes—those mandatory detail of etiquette as you scroll through name after name trying to conjure up something new to say about your soup dish in your wedding registry. As a pastor, I’ve seen how this habitual task crushes people when they desperately need a break, during major life transitions such as having a child or during times of mourning after a loss.

However, I love random and unsolicited thank you notes. Gratitude reminds us that we are deeply dependent on each other and on God. Take the time to say thank you in writing to the friends and family who surround you. One year, I wrote short daily notes to thank my husband for a month or so and found that deliberate practice actually made me Feel More grateful over time. Also consider writing occasional thank-you notes for those you also may not know but rely on every day: the mail carrier, bus driver, or the child’s teacher.

3. Compose your psalm. The Psalms are a poetic way of expressing thanks to God. You can read a thanksgiving psalm such as Psalm 111 or Psalm 34 and change the words to reflect the special good things in your life. For example, Psalm 34 says, “I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” I could write, “I searched for the Lord and He heard me and helped me in that difficult conversation with a friend.” Or my son was cured of his stomach. Or save me from the fear of failure. Alternatively, you can write a poem or song of gratitude from scratch. Even if it’s terrible, you better write it down.

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