As a little girl, my daughter once thanked God for her dad, blue popsicles and not making our skin the color of crocodiles. It may have seemed silly, but it was sincere and the Lord reminds us that it is good to give thanks, because it’s practice for what we will be doing in heaven: praising, thanking and worshiping our Creator. The Father is asking us to notice him in everything. He wants us to know the things we should be thankful for are not random happenings – they are the touch of one who loves us profoundly. If you’re a little rusty in the gratitude department, here are some ways to live more thankfully.
Don’t be jealous! Jealousy is the opposite of gratitude, so when you find yourself feeling jealous, stop immediately and list five things you’re thankful for.• Be generous! God can’t be outdone in generosity, so the more you give the more you will be blessed. I love the story of the day Mahatma Ghandi was getting on a train and one of his shoes fell down between the platform and the tracks. There was no way to reach the shoe, so he quickly threw the other shoe down onto the tracks, too. Puzzled, his companions looked at him and asked, why? He said that one shoe would be of no value, so he might as well leave the pair.
Be the creator of thankfulness. Why not be the one who does great things today and gives others something to be thankful for?• Be the most thankful in the middle of the yucky, hard and ugly stuff. Thank God for being tired because it means you’ve had the ability to work hard. Thank him for your mistakes because they teach us lessons. Thank him for your weakness because that’s when he shows his strength. Thank him for not getting what you want because he wants to give you something perfect. Thank him for the suffering because that’s how we learn to depend on him. Thank him for the worry because that’s how we learn to trust. Finally, thank God for spoiled plans because that’s how we learn who is really in charge.
One final thought, in order to develop an attitude of gratitude, begin and end each day with the words, “Lord, I thank you.”
Pray every day: A great theologian once said, “If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” Spend the next few weeks adopting this simple prayer. Start a list today of all the things for which you are thankful so your eyes can be opened to the ways the Lord is working in your life.
Study the faith: Read and ponder Psalm 118 and allow it to build your spirit of thankfulness.
Engage in parish life: Send a thank-you note, or expression of thanks, to your pastor or someone in your parish who gives of their time and talent to serve the Lord.
Serve others’ needs: Give something away that will make someone else thankful. It can be a close parking spot, your place in line or the last cup of coffee in the pot.