As the month of November begins, many minds are turned to the many Thanksgiving celebrations we’ll soon enjoy. Turkey. Parades. Football. More turkey. However, one of the most prized traditions is also one of the most important: professing our thanks and gratitude! Instead of waiting for your Thanksgiving meal to give thanks, here are 10 easy ways you can cultivate an attitude of gratitude all month long and beyond.
Immediately Offer Thanks
As we go throughout our day to day lives, we experience things to be grateful for. Perhaps someone did something kind or served us in some way. Perhaps we look at the beautiful fall leaves and feel a sense of calm. Perhaps it is something so small and so simple, but it brings us joy. When these moments come, immediately offer thanks. Say thank you to someone. Say thank you to God. Don’t wait until there is a better moment or when you’re saying your evening prayers. Don’t fear reprisal or feeling awkward. Be unashamed in giving thanks as soon as you feel it.
Keep a Gratitude Journal
You’ve likely heard of this one! Consider keeping a gratitude journal. Figure out a medium you enjoy (journals, electronics, etc.) and a time that works best for you (daily, weekly, etc.). Then, just record what you’re grateful for. Write down lists or write down stories or write down both. Review the journal regularly and especially when you aren’t feeling grateful at all. Try to be consistent and get into the habit of keeping a gratitude journal. You can even use your journals when you pray if you need help thanking God.
Use Social Media for a Gratitude Project
One unique way of keeping a gratitude journal is by using social media. Post a photo or status every day in the month of November stating something you’re grateful for. Use hashtags to join a community of people doing the same or to invite others to join you. If you don’t feel comfortable posting every day, post on Sunday’s or during Thanksgiving week. Using social media can be a fun and easy way to incorporate gratitude into something you use every day.
Slow Down and Meditate
In order to record or share what you’re grateful for, you need to know yourself. This can be hard to do in our hectic, busy world. If we are facing trials or tribulations, it is even harder to be grateful. Make it easier to put things into perspective by slowing down and giving yourself time every day to meditate. Think about the big things. Think about the small things. Think about what you’re praying for. Think about what you want and need. Think about the good things that happened. Think about the ways a person or event or seemingly small thing could have been a divine smile from God in your life.
Express Genuine Love and Affection
There is the old maxim that we receive what we give. By genuinely expressing our love and affection to our family, friends, and God, we keep our hearts warm and soft. Most people are most grateful for the people they love; returning that love is one of the greatest expression of thanks. Offer sincere compliments. Say “I love you” often. Tell people why you appreciate them. Try to see others as God sees them. Strive to forgive those who have wronged you.
Seek Service and Generosity
One of the hardest things to do in this life is to turn out ourselves outward to others when all we want to do is turn inward. However, as we seek opportunities to serve, we will place our lives into a greater perspective. As we focus less on ourselves and more on how we give to others, we will have more clarity about blessings we may not have been able to see before. Serve others as they would like to be served. Find ways to be generous.
Avoid Complaining and Bitterness
If we want to learn to be grateful, it is best to avoid the habits that lead to ingratitude. Ruminating on what we have no control over and constantly complaining leaves us little room for finding blessings. We need to be honest about troubled feelings and tough times, but we also need to be careful not to let bitterness and anger flow so rampantly that we become blinded to the provisions of God. Try to change your focus and perspective, no matter the bitter cup you have been asked to drink.
Seek After Blessings
You are not meant to be a bystander in your own life! Actively desiring and seeking after blessings does not make you greedy or self-centered. Be grateful for what you have, but also be grateful that God allows us to strive for more. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland once said, “God is eagerly waiting for the chance to answer your prayers and fulfill your dreams, just as He always has. But He can’t if you don’t pray, and He can’t if you don’t dream.”
Pray for Eyes to See
It can be hard to see the blessings of God in our lives. If you are having trouble being grateful, pray for help. Pray to notice how God is working in your life, however small or large his help may be. Ask for a change of heart and the direction to bring yourself in tune with the promptings of the Holy Ghost. By prayerfully seeking how you can best cultivate an attitude of gratitude, you are more likely to receive revelation and direction specific to your needs and circumstances.
Submit Your Will To God
No matter our best efforts, we may still find ourselves struggling to be grateful. If we submit our will to God, we will find peace whatever our circumstances may be. This is a lifetime challenge; we will not always be able to walk away from the altar of consecration without difficulty. Yet as we strive to accept God’s will, we can see more of the purpose of our lives and the plan God has for us. Knowing of our eternal possibilities with Jesus Christ, we can find something to be grateful for in such a perspective.