A Season of Gratitude

By Janice Harley

It’s November, and reminders to “be thankful” are everywhere. Why? Is it just about the décor of the season? Perhaps there’s much more to it than that. Are we really thankful? Or are we too overwhelmed, anxious, and busy to truly give thanks? 

Did you know studies show there are multiple health benefits to simply being thankful? This is a perfect reason why us parents should display thankfulness to our children. Not only will we reap multiple health benefits, but grateful parents breed grateful children which makes for a much more peaceful and healthy home! Additionally, a thankful heart comes from a heart that’s obedient to the Word of God!

Furthermore, did you know it’s impossible to be anxious and grateful at the same time? That’s right! Research actually proves you can’t be stressed and thankful at the same time! I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be thankful than stressed. So, let’s go! 

As you approach Thanksgiving and the holiday season, focus on having an attitude of gratitude. Being thankful is like exercising a muscle: the more you use it, the stronger it becomes! 

Exercising gratitude creates joy! Here are two easy ways you can exercise your thankful muscle: 

  1. Take a thank you walk. As you’re outside taking a walk and enjoying God’s creation all around you, just tell Him everything you’re thankful for! It will fill your heart and soul with positive emotions and release endorphins that have health benefits.

  2. Start a gratitude journal. This can be as quick and easy as jotting down what you’re thankful for on the Notes app in your phone or a little more involved by writing your thoughts in a notebook (e.g., I’m thankful I didn’t step on a Lego today. I’m thankful my baby slept through the night. I’m thankful we made it to school on time this morning. I’m grateful I have a job.). Either way, you’ll be reminded of all the daily blessings in your life that you may otherwise take for granted. Try to jot down what you’re thankful for at the same time every day. If you’re really struggling with a lack of joy, then begin writing down the good in your life every morning AND every night just before falling asleep. Start and end your day with a thankful thought. In the morning, you may need to ask yourself, “What thoughts am I going to feed today and which ones am I going to starve?”

It’s amazing the power a single thought of thankfulness has and where it can lead us. Gratitude is truly the foundation and at the very heart of being a happy parent and a fulfilled person. Grateful parents aren’t ignorant parents or perfect parents, but they’re parents whom cherish what they have. And when we have gratitude, we become aware of the good in our lives.

Our gratitude, of course, should be rooted in God’s character, not in our physical abundance or material blessings. Being thankful is a posture of knowing and believing that all good gifts come from the Father and that He is in control; that we are His children and He is going to take care of us.

Lastly, put aside comparison. Comparison is the thief of joy—it’s impossible to be thankful or to sincerely practice a heart of gratitude when we compare our lives to someone else’s. And as we’ve already learned, the way to cultivate a joyful life is to practice gratitude. Therefore, this has to become an intentional mindset. When we focus on all the good in our lives, we’ll be full of joy! But when we focus on what others have or what we don’t have, this leads to depression and resentment, which robs us and our families of joy. 

So, my encouragement to you today is to be a joyful parent, one who lives and models a life of thanksgiving by being intentional in your thoughts and cultivating an attitude of gratitude. You’ll be thankful you did!