What Are You Thankful for This Holiday Season?
We all have much to be thankful for each day that we wake up and put our feet on the floor. However, the holidays are a time when we’re called to reflect upon the thankful blessings of our lives. We must do our best to hold on to that gratitude during the following year.
Easy Ideas to Recognize Your Thankful Blessings
Do you take the time during this busy season to count your blessings? If so, how do you do it? Everyone has unique ways of recognizing the abundance that they’ve been given. Maybe one of the following is your chosen way, or these ideas will spark something new in your daily routine.
- Count yourself to sleep. Instead of counting sheep, count your blessings. It’s a very peaceful way to drift off into dreamland, by just going through my schedule that day and remembering what I was thankful for. Whether it’s having enough to eat, avoiding a car accident, or witnessing the healing of a sick loved one. Even simply appreciating the beauty of the trees growing along the road, blessings are all around.
- Keep a gratitude journal. You’ve likely seen this one floating around many places, but it’s truly a wonderful practice. You see, when the brain takes notice of positive things, especially in an intentional act such as writing, it becomes more accustomed to seeing positivity throughout all areas of life. The more you notice, the more you’ll continue to notice.
- Do good for others. When we go out into the world and serve those who have less, it helps us to realize how abundant our lives truly are. Usually, when you serve with an open heart and listen to those whom you’re helping, you’ll hear from people who are thankful for much in their life, even if they have little. It helps to make you appreciate all that you have, too.
- Thank people in your life. Make it a daily habit to say thank you to at least three people—but make it specific. Instead of thanking the barista quickly for your coffee or nodding at the doorman to your building, take a moment to recognize something that might not often get acknowledgment. Such as, “I really appreciate you taking the time to remember my name. It makes me feel special.”, or “I know that I’m safe when I see you standing here, and that makes my day easier.”
Recognizing Other People’s Struggles
We all take many things for granted each day, whether it’s our health, our freedom, or our privileged opportunities. Taking the time to put ourselves in other people’s shoes helps us see how blessed we are. Interestingly, many who choose to tell their story of struggle will also say that they feel blessed in abundance, too. Maybe it’s because they’ve survived and know the delicate balance of life, or because they get to use their triumph to help others along their journey.
Earlier this year, I came across Virginia Prodan’s book, Saving My Assassin. If there was ever a story of forgiveness, mercy, and good over evil, this is it. Virginia spent her early adult life working as an attorney in communist Romania. But after spending years searching for the truth and finding it in one of the most banned texts in the entire country, Virginia chose to put her life on the line and defend her freedom of religion and faith. Her story of courage, trust, and God’s protective hand over all evil is moving and powerful—a must for all readers. Hearing Ms. Prodan’s story helped me understand exactly how important our freedoms are.
Recognizing Family Struggles
Both my husband’s sister, Corine, and his cousin Cori are two people who make me take a second look at my own blessed life. They were both born with biliary atresia, a rare liver condition in which the common bile duct leading out of the liver is atrophied, causing toxins to get stuck in the liver. Corine is now on her second liver transplant which has been much more difficult than her first one. Cousin Cori needed a liver transplant at a very young age. Watching her parents and grandparents navigate their feelings, frustrations, and support during this unimaginable time was a wonderful testimony to the power of the human spirit and the connections we all share.
Recognizing Our Nation’s Strife
Especially over the last couple of years, there has been a great deal of talk about the struggles and strife in the United States. Our political situation, our healthcare, and our national debt. Poverty, mandates, and education. Everywhere you turn there is division, misinformation, greed, and deceit. However, our country is still free and has so many opportunities to offer to those who seek its refuge. It’s an interesting dichotomy—those who grew up here often feel entitled to want more: more freedom, more individual power, and more opportunity. Yet those who come from communism, dictatorships, constant war, and modern-day slavery see the freedoms of America with more objective eyes. They know it’s not perfect here, but they can appreciate that it’s better than in many other places. Of course, we should continue to work toward improvement, but we can be thankful for the progress made at the same time.
Choosing Joy and Recognizing Thankful Blessings
We know that no one’s life is all sunshine and roses. Life is hard, people are broken, and bodies are mortal. We all have our crosses to bear and sometimes, it can just all seem like too much to bear. But when we take the time to focus our perspective on the things that we do have, the ways our particular lives have so much to offer, and all the good that is waiting for us down the road, it’s easier to take a deep breath and be patient through the difficult times.
Choosing joy doesn’t mean that you’re always happy with everything that’s going on. It does mean recognizing what is good around you and making a conscious effort to be thankful. We’ll leave you with this quote from Billy Graham.
“Let us get on our knees humbly and thank God for the blessings He has given us, both material and spiritual. They have come from His hand. Let us not neglect to thank Him.”