The Practice of Thanksgiving

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Followers of Jesus practice what Jesus practiced.

Jesus consistently practiced giving thanks to God.

Practicing thanksgiving helps us become more aware of and available to the presence of God, who is at work within us and others.

In addition to spiritual benefits, there are also physical and emotional benefits for those who consistently practice thanksgiving. Research shows that people who express gratitude are happier, have more energy, and feel more hopeful about the future. They have healthier relationships with others and are more physically and emotionally healthy. They also are less envious and less materialistic — all because they are thankful.

Here are four simple ways to practice thanksgiving. 

  1. Make the practice of thanksgiving a bedtime ritual.
    Want a quick way to feel more relaxed and centered before bedtime? Want better sleep? Do this. Place a small notebook next to your bed, or use some other format that works for you. Each night, simply reflect on your day and write three experiences you’re thankful for, then thank God. Think about including your spouse or your kids in this practice.
  2. Practice being present to appreciate each moment.
    Take a deep breath. Slow down your thoughts and engage in the present moment, wherever you are. Notice all the people you are with, your surroundings, and ask yourself these questions, “How is God present here in this moment, in this place, with these people?” and “How can I be more present?” Give God thanks for this moment.
  3. Post a bible verse of thanksgiving where you will see it often.
    These posts will help you remember to pause, to be present in the moment, to notice what God is doing around you and in you, and to give thanks. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 is a great one to start with, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
  4. Take a walk and practice thanksgiving along the way.
    This is very helpful when you’re feeling down or filled with stress and worry. Set aside 15-20 minutes and walk in your neighborhood, through a park or around your office. As you walk, be present to appreciate the moment. If you’re walking your neighborhood, give thanks for each neighbors as your walk past their homes. If you’re walking around your office, give thanks for your co-workers as you walk past their workspaces, if you’re walking through a park, give thanks for God’s creation. You get the idea.

That’s four simple things to consider. Choose just one and practice it for a season. Then try another and practice it for a season. Don’t overcomplicate this. If you do you’ll probably end up dropping it and feeling like you’ve failed in some way – and that’s not what God wants for you!

Keep it simple. Keep it doable. Keep it sustainable.

Keep it simple, doable and sustainable.