This is the time of year where our focus turns to all things thankful, unless you are a turkey, that is. “I am thankful for my health,” “I am thankful for my family,” “I am thankful for (fill in appropriate nicety here).” However, it is also the time of rising political tension, technology-addicted children, holiday shopping woes and those unwanted stress-induced pounds you have packed on since bathing suit season. So, “THANK YOU VERY MUCH!” doesn’t always come across in a thankful manner. It is easy to get distracted by the stressful negatives in our lives which aids in turning our focus to all things that make us want to spit.
One of my favorite Bible verses comes to mind as I think about this predicament we shove ourselves into each holiday season. Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” I am reminded of this verse when I see the frustrated pains on peoples’ faces as they wait in way-too-long lines or hear a less-than-thrilled “thank you” when a service was not as fast as one would have liked. But if we change our habits and focus on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy how could we be anything but thankful?
Maybe God is keeping you out of harms way by keeping you in line a little bit longer than usual. Be thankful. We are not privy to “the big picture” so we just need to trust that all things that happen are for the good, no matter what it is. Just be thankful, always. It takes 21 days for something to become a habit so, if you start now you will be in good shape by the time Santa pulls his list from his pocket…and you will be a much happier person, too.
The Mayo Clinic reports that there is a direct correlation between focusing on the positive and decreased negative stress, higher resistance to illnesses and better coping skills during hardships. One of their suggestions is to monitor your self-talk. At certain times throughout the day evaluate what tone the thoughts are carrying. Are they mostly positive or negative? Teaching yourself to have a thankful heart will affect your life in ways unimaginable.
When you find yourself saying, “I will never be able to do this,” turn that negative thought into a thankful praise for the opportunity to learn something new. If you take your thought inventory and a comment like, “There’s just not enough time in the day,” pops out at you, be thankful for the “heavenly” reminder to reevaluate your priorities.
Look around you and notice those who are watching you; your co-workers, friends, family and children. Who are you rubbing off on? Whose mood are you crushing?
So, what are you thankful for this week? Will you mention the vague niceties you always mention or will you take the leap, turn a negative situation into a blessing of thanks and make an impact on those around you?
In church I teach a group of 4th and 5th grade girls during the 10:30 service. Our virtue this month is GRATITUDE. When I asked them what things they were thankful for that they never say “Thank You” for, their list was long. “I am thankful that the lunch lady gives me my lunch but I never say ‘thank you’ to her.” “I am thankful I have a warm place to sleep but I have never thanked my parents for it.” The group of 14 girls went on and on and on with their list. As adults I am sure there are people we should thank but we don’t. People who deserve a pat on the back but never get it. Let’s spend this month making sure those people, no matter whether friends or strangers, come to know how much they are appreciated. You could change the world with a couple Thank Yous.
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