As we move towards Thanksgiving, perhaps one of the first things we should confess is all the things that get in the way of gratitude. It's natural to struggle with thankfulness during times of difficulty, but there is so much more. Sometimes ingratitude comes from a sense of entitlement. It's hard to feel grateful for things if we think we are entitled to them in the first place. Sometimes it arises amidst unmet, unrealistic expectations. Sometimes ingratitude surfaces due to constant comparison. We compare our present to our past. We compare what we have to what others have, what others have achieved, accumulated. But perhaps as much as anything else, ingratitude can stem from forgetfulness, busyness, or distraction. While we feel grateful, we neglect to express it, to say it, to act on in. Lives of thankfulness take effort. To practice gratitude may require practice. So here is a simple, two-fold challenge for the week.
- Express gratitude to others often. Don't assume they know your appreciation. Say it. Show it. Offer a word of thanks in the moment. Don't delay. Furthermore, give thanks repeatedly. It's nearly impossible to be too grateful. Shoot a text. Send a tweet. Post your thanks on Facebook. Write a card. Make a call. This week (and every week), shower your family with gratitude. Try also to pick at least one person each week outside of your family to share and show your thanks.
- Express gratitude to God daily. Set aside a little time every night for reflection, recognition, and then thanksgiving.Jot it down in bullet form, write about it in a journal, or simply spend some time thinking about it. After that, acknowledge it. Praise God for it. Start to look for it throughout your day. My guess is you will see things you previously overlooked, things you forgot. The goodness of God is all around. The more you practice gratitude, the more your eyes will be opened to see that for which you should be grateful.