This post was written together by Dale and Tamara Chamberlain
This is such a wonderful time of year to gather, eat tasty food, enjoy the company of family and friends, and to really remember everything we have to be thankful for.
But we don’t want today to be a blip on the radar. The joy we experience as a result of intentional thankfulness need not only be a holiday luxury. Jesus invites us to live an abundant life every day of the year. May today be the beginning of a year of gratitude.
Last year on this day, we published an article listing 5 ways to cultivate a lifestyle of thankfulness.
Today, we’d like to give you 5 more. Here they are.
1. Tell the same old stories.
When God delivered the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt, he prepared them to take the land that he had promised them. And he instructed them on how they ought to live by giving them the law of Moses.
And after God gave this law to the people, he instructed them to always keep it at the forefront of their minds and hearts. He told them to speak about these commandments wherever they went and whatever they did. They were to pass this knowledge onto the next generation.
And whenever their children asked why their parents were so caught up on this law and these commandments, God told them to offer this specific response.
“When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the LORD our God has commanded you?’ then you shall say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. And the LORD showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes. And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land that he swore to give to our fathers. And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day.’” (Deuteronomy 6:20-25)
The people of Israel were called to cultivate a sense of gratitude for the pivotal ways God had rescued them. And the way they did that was by retelling the story. Over and over again. If they were to become the people that God had called them to be, then they needed to relentlessly continue to retell this story. It was a defining moment where God changed everything for them.
We cultivate a culture of gratitude in our families and our circles of influence when we remember to tell the same old stories about what God has done for us. We’re so quick to forget. And when we forget, we are prone to act foolishly. This is why God commands us to remember.
Retell the same stories of how God has worked in your life. It will not only make you more thankful. It will engender a culture of thankfulness to everyone in your life.
2. Focus on making healthy relationships stronger while minimizing the impact of toxic ones.
The holidays can be a tricky time, relationally speaking. And we often spend a lot of our time focusing on how to manage the difficult relational dynamics among various family members and people close to us.
It’s easy to feel like we’re spending all of our time dealing with (or trying to recover from) toxic interactions. We oftentimes know that certain relationships are toxic, and we can almost predict the ways in which certain people are going to act in toxic ways toward us. And yet we continue to invest a lot of time and effort in maintaining or building these relationships–often times thinking that “maybe this year will be different.”
We might be better served by investing our efforts in deepening relationships with people with whom we already have healthy interactions. People who speak life into us. People who love Jesus and who love us. Put the lion’s share of your energy there.
When we invest in healthy relationships, we see the goodness of who God created us to be. We begin to see the redemption that Jesus has bought for us. And we experience a heart of gratitude for everything he is causing us to become.
3. Be present.
If your family is anything like ours, then family gatherings often consist of everyone sitting in the same room looking at their phones. Some may argue that simply existing in the same room qualifies as quality time, but that’s probably the same person with an addiction to their phone.
One of the greatest ways to live in a constant spirit of thankfulness is simply to be present. When you’re present with the people around you, it often leads to knowing them–even family– better than you thought you already did.
In fact, you might realize you never really knew that person at all. When you’re intentional about being in the moment, undistracted and without an agenda, you might just be surprised by how much you enjoy other people.
Be intentional about putting down your phone, stop running through your to-do list in your mind, or the many things that you need to attend to. Choose to be in the moment with the people you are with.
4. Seek to recapture your childlike sense of wonder.
Our nieces and nephews were recently singing a Christmas song which quickly became a competition of who could insert the most absurd and nonsensical lyrics. After each kids turn, a roar of laughter followed. We sat there watching them laughing at how ridiculous their enjoyment was.
But sometimes we need to take a page out of a kid’s book. Most kids find joy and entertainment in the most basic and off the wall things. We really need to stop taking life so seriously. Why are our standards of happiness and enjoyment so high? When did we lose our sense of wonder for life?
Take a moment to look at the world through the eyes of a child. Instead of seeing how immature they are, look at how much they love life and how grateful they can be for the littlest things.
Take a moment to look at the world through the eyes of a child. Instead of seeing how immature they are, look at how much they love life and how grateful they can be for the littlest things. Click To Tweet
5. Find a way to be helpful.
Most cynical people have one thing in common. They never help.
Similarly, most thankful people have one thing in common. They’re constantly trying to serve. There’s something about finding a way to be helpful that reignites our passion to be hopeful. When we put forth tireless effort to help other people in some small way, we are reminded of the enormous ways in which God has carried us along in our lives.
Find a way to make a positive impact. More often than not, you’ll be the one who is impacted the most. And your heart will grow in thankfulness for the one who empowers your efforts and who is able to do so much more than you could ask or imagine.
Make thankfulness an everyday practice.
Our hope for you is that you would cultivate a life of thankfulness every day of the year. And in so doing, that you would experience a life full of richness and joy.
Jesus has given us so much to be grateful for. And while you may be in the midst of turmoil, choosing to cultivate thankfulness will give you joy more powerful than your circumstances.
May God bless your heart today and always.