By Vivian Bricker, Crosswalk.com
Many of us see Thanksgiving as the only time to practice thankfulness, yet we should practice a heart of gratitude year-round. While it may be easier to be in the “thankful” spirit during the holidays, we should strive to practice thankfulness throughout the year. The exact definition of thanksgiving means “the act of giving thanks; grateful acknowledgment of benefits or favors, especially to God.” Even though thanksgiving is often associated with pumpkin pie, turkey, and football, the true meaning is giving thanks to God.
Here are four ways to practice thanksgiving in your daily routine:
1. Giving Thanks to God
The first way to practice thanksgiving in your daily routine is to give thanks to God. When we wake up in the morning, it’s only because of God. We would not be able to take a deep breath of oxygen unless it was God’s will. The sun rising each morning is only because of God, and our renewed energy from a good night’s sleep is only because of God. Each morning when you wake up, thank God for all He has done and continues to do in your life.
Practicing thanksgiving in your daily life does not have to be hard because there are many things to be thankful for. In your prayers, tell God you are thankful for Him and all the blessings He has given you. God has given us so many reasons to be thankful, including giving us life, redemption, and eternal salvation. We truly would not be here without God. The Apostle Paul tells us, “Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:18b-20).
Giving thanks to God can be done through our words, actions, and song. When we talk with God in prayer, we can give Him thanks. We can also show Him thanks by living according to His will and obeying His teachings. Our actions ultimately speak louder than our words, and our actions show what we truly believe. Practicing thanksgiving can also be done by giving thanks to God through song. There are many worship songs based on giving thanks to God. You can listen to current Christian songs, old hymns, or even compose your own!
2. Extending Thanks to Others
A second way to practice thanksgiving in your daily routine is by extending thanks to others. Showing others that you appreciate them allows gratitude to grow in your heart. When you give thanks to others, it will help the other person feel good about themself and reaffirm their God-given value. Giving thanks to others helps them know that they matter, that someone sees them, and it helps them know that if another person cares about them, there's no doubt God cares for them more.
Your small act of kindness by extending thanks to others can make a difference in somebody's day. Not to mention that it will help you feel good inside too. A person doesn’t have to do anything for us to give them thanks. We can simply thank them for being in our lives. Additionally, we can thank our family members, our friends, our bosses, and our co-workers. Even a simple thank you to the postal worker can brighten their day. Never forget how far a simple thank you can go.
3. Be Thankful for the Big and Little Things
A third way to practice thanksgiving in your daily routine is to be thankful for the little things. Being thankful for the little things can include making a thankful list or a gratitude jar. Either of these activities can help you be thankful for the little things in life. Start small in your list or gratitude journal and then graduate to larger things, such as health, family, or your job. Even little things are important to us as we practice thanksgiving daily.
Being thankful for not only the big things but also for the little things will help us practice thanksgiving in our daily routines and cultivate a heart of gratitude. Often, we are not thankful for things until they are gone, including our health or even our loved ones. As much as I hate to admit it, I took my own mother for granted, and it wasn’t until after she passed that I was able to fully appreciate her. As sad as this sounds, it is all too common.
We must be thankful for the little things and the big things in our lives. When we start being thankful for everything in our lives, we more easily notice all the blessings God has given us. I encourage you to pull out a sheet of paper today and list everything you are thankful for, including your health, family, and friends. You can also get creative in your list by including books, the ability to read, or time off from work or school. The possibilities are endless!
4. Be Intentional
A fourth way to practice thanksgiving in your daily routine is to be intentional. If we don’t make practicing thanksgiving intentional in our daily lives, it's easy to neglect amid the hurried pace of our everyday schedules. A few great ways of being intentional are asking God to help you be more intentional with your gratitude and leaving yourself sticky notes or postcards in key areas to help you remember why you are grateful. Placing a note card or a sticky note in your Bible, on your mirror, or on your door before you head out are all ways to help you be more intentional in practicing thanksgiving in your daily routine.
Being intentional helps to keep us focused on practicing thanksgiving without being distracted by anything else. Many things are trying to catch our attention, and if we let them, most of them will distract us from things that matter. When we are being intentional in practicing thanksgiving, we will be less likely to grow distracted or grow ungrateful. Unthankfulness can easily creep into our bones, but we must fight against this temptation. Paul says, “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain” (Philippians 2:14-16).
The exact opposite of thanksgiving is complaining, bickering, or being ungrateful. None of these things are appropriate for Christians to practice in their lives. It is common to complain, bicker, and be ungrateful in the world, but we are called to be different from the world. Jesus tells us we are His lights to the world, which means we must demonstrate Christ to the lost world (Matthew 5:14-16). We cannot be Jesus’ lights to the world if we are living in conformity to the teachings of the world, which go directly against practicing thanksgiving.
It can be hard to practice thanksgiving throughout our daily routine, especially in a technological age that has taught us to only appreciate what is easy or instant, but we must remain intentional and vigilant in carrying out thanksgiving throughout our day. The more we practice thanksgiving in our daily routine, the more we will be able to grow sensitive to being thankful in all areas of our lives—even the hard seasons. God wants us to be thankful for Him and all of His blessings. God is our good, good Father, and He loves to hear His children offer up voices of praise that give thanks to His name.
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Vivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master's degree in Christian Ministry with a deep academic emphasis in theology. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is embarking on other adventures.