In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Maintaining an attitude of gratitude may be extremely difficult if you have suffered enough losses. Trust me, I know. I have been struggling for the past few months to keep my mind focused on virtuous things and not to be overwhelmed by despair. It becomes increasingly difficult to keep up a positive mental attitude when you are going through blow after blow – and when the holiday season comes around and you’re expected to be happy.
I am one who believes that we put way too much emphasis on the time between the fourth Thursday in November and the end of the year. We go out of our way, overwhelming ourselves trying to spread cheer, spend time with loved ones, and balling out at the store (charging up credit we don’t have and squandering funds – but that’s another post for another day). I think if we begin the practice of maintaining an attitude of gratitude throughout the year, this time of year won’t be so overwhelming. So here are my simple suggestions to take you into the holiday season and beyond.
- Practice finding something to be grateful for every single day. Before I get my day started, I take the time to pray and thank God for something. When I go to bed at night, I reflect on my day and thank Him again. Even if it is nothing more than another day with another chance to get it right – it’s enough to be grateful for. Everything may not be going right but as long as you are still here you have a reason to give thanks. This has been paramount in getting me through recent days where I literally did not want to go on.
- Slow down and thank people for small things they do. Something that burns my grits is when I am holding a door for someone and they refuse to say thank you. Sometimes it is the small things that matter. We move so fast through life nowadays with our noses in our phones and we barely take the time to acknowledge one another. Thank people on your job for helping you with a project. Thank your husband for remembering to put the toilet seat down. Thank the man in traffic for letting you merge. Thank your kids for picking up their toys. Sometimes we take people for granted so much and it isn’t until they stop doing what they always do that we realize what a great loss it is. Acknowledging someone else’s life and contribution to yours will lighten your load.
- Give back to others who can’t do anything for you. I am a HUGE community service advocate. This holiday season I have already helped an organization give away 800 Thanksgiving dinners to less fortunate families. I mentor teenaged girls year round and volunteer with a few non-profit organizations. I will be handing out purses with toiletries to homeless women in a few weeks and going back to give away Christmas dinners. Find things that take your focus off of YOU. Ego can be a gratitude killer. When you are constantly thinking of “me, me, me” you can get bogged down in what you don’t have. But when you give to others who can’t do anything in return for your it makes you realize just how blessed you are.
Everything may not be going right in your life – it likely never will be. But in everything and in every circumstance – even if you have to dig way deep – I am certain you can find something to give thanks for on a daily basis. Don’t relegate your attitude of gratitude to six weeks out of the year. If you practice it throughout the year it won’t be so difficult to show love and you won’t feel so indebted to have to do so much around the holidays. Enjoy your family and friends today! Peace and blessings to you.