"What's the best thing that happened today?" That's the question we ask everyone around the table at our evening meal together, and it's become a family tradition and in a big family like ours has helped us stay connected.
Psychological studies have also found significant social, psychological, and physical health benefits from giving thanks and thinking about what we have to be grateful for in our everyday lives.
When we take recounting our gratitude a step further and start to write down the things we're grateful for, there are even greater benefits than happier dinner times, (as great as they are). Benefits include better sleep, fewer symptoms of illness, dealing with adversity better, and having happier relationships.
As with anything in life, our "attitude of gratitude" needs to be from the heart and based on a conscious decision to look for the blessings in our lives. As I regularly remind myself and our kids, "yours is a first-world problem", so let's change our perspective and look for what we do have, not what we don't. We have so much, yet we are often not content or happy when we miss being thankful.
One effective way of stimulating gratitude and being able to recount the best part of our day is to:
1. Ask yourself, "what would life be like without that experience, person, ability, relationship, etc."? Then choose to be thankful for what and who is in front of you.
2. Savour surprises. Try to think, talk about and record unexpected or surprising events that made your day brighter. Look for the slivers of joy and not just the big things.
3. Take some time to write the best parts of your day and what you are grateful for down regularly (once or twice weekly). The benefit of writing things down is that it helps us organize our thoughts and see the events and people that bring meaning to our life.
Simply recording five things we have experienced in the past week that we're grateful for in just a single sentence is all it takes. But the result is a change of perspective. Instead of seeing our life as a glass "half empty", we start to see how much fuller it really is, or where we perhaps need to make some changes.
I encourage you to start paying attention to those everyday occurrences that make up the good parts of your day. Look for and acknowledge what you do have and all that God has done and is doing in your life. If you realise you need to make some changes ask for God's wisdom and determination to change those things that you are consistently unhappy with in your life.
This week, pause, think of five things to be grateful for, write them down, and most importantly, give thanks!
"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:20)
"This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalm 118:24)
Prayer: Lord, thank you for all I have and everything you do in my life. Please help me see the good things in my day so that if I need to make changes I will see clearly the way forward to do that. Please help me to remember that even when I am having a tough day, I can trust you and that you are working all things together for my good. In Jesus name Amen.