If you’re like me, God has blessed you in many ways. However, in the busyness and stresses of everyday life, I’m often tempted to dwell on my problems instead of my blessings. Whenever that happens, I begin to complain. I begin to grumble. I begin to act like I’m entitled to a stress-free and problem-free life. And above all else, I find it hard to be thankful.
Perhaps I’m not the only one.
As we approach the season of thanksgiving, I’m making an intentional effort to develop an attitude of gratitude. If you’d like to do so as well, consider these seven practical suggestions:
- Focus on your spiritual blessings. In Ephesians 1:3, Paul writes, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” No matter how bad your circumstances, you are a recipient of every spiritual blessing imaginable – if you are in Christ. Paul goes on to list several of those blessings in Ephesians 1. Whenever you begin to dwell on your problems, turn to God’s Word to be reminded of the ways that the Lord has spiritually blessed you.
- Make a list of other blessings. Make a list of all the good things in your life. Make a list of all the wonderful blessings that you don’t deserve. Make a list of your favorite songs, movies, or television shows. Make a list of your favorite vacations. Make a list of your favorite athletes, actors, or Bible teachers. Whenever you’re tempted to focus on your problems, make a list of whatever it is that puts a smile on your face. Then, spend a few minutes thanking God for those blessings.
- Practice the Golden Rule. Jesus said in Matthew 7:12: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” One of the best ways to develop an attitude of gratitude is by treating others the way you want to be treated. Your kindness will always be appreciated and often reciprocated. Furthermore, you’ll be more likely to notice whenever someone treats you kindly.
- Say thank you…a lot. Never let a day go by without saying “thank you” multiple times per day. Your friends, family, and even strangers in public places will often perform small gestures of kindness. It could be something as simple as holding a door open for you or something as significant as helping to pay some of your unexpected medical expenses. Whenever someone shows you the slightest act of kindness, make sure that you thank them.
- Use social media wisely. Many users attempt to portray the best version of themselves on social media. The perfect marriage. The perfect children. The perfect church. The perfect job. The perfect vacation. As you scroll through your newsfeeds, it’s easy to begin to compare yourself to others and become discouraged when you don’t measure up. That’s why it’s a good idea to consume social media in small doses and constantly remind yourself that there is no perfect marriage, children, church, job, or vacation. The only one who is perfect is our Savior, Jesus Christ.
- Enlist the help of others. Enlist a few of your friends who have permission to quiz you at any time about the reasons why you’re thankful. Perhaps this is your spouse. Maybe it’s an accountability partner (of the same gender if not your spouse). It’s someone who knows you well enough to know when you’re struggling to maintain an attitude of gratitude. In those situations, these folks can help you reorient your thoughts to your blessings rather than your problems.
- Pray. Many Christians find the ACTS acrostic to help guide their prayer time (A – Adoration, C – Confession, T – Thanksgiving, S – Supplication). For our current discussion, this acrostic is beneficial because it reminds you to regularly spend part of your prayer time praising the Lord for the myriad of ways He has blessed you. Even if you don’t use this acrostic, don’t waste the opportunity to express thanksgiving to God whenever you pray.
Everyone has problems. But everyone also has blessings. If you’ve spent more time dwelling on your difficulties lately, I hope you will begin to implement these strategies to develop an attitude of gratitude!