It’s Thanksgiving week, the one day a year we set aside as Americans to practice gratitude. As we look around God’s big, beautiful world, it’s hard to believe that we make thanking God an event only once a year! Here are three ideas for inserting a little thankfulness in our lives—every day.
- Don’t be picky: appreciate everything! Gratitude doesn’t have to be saved for the “big” things in life. The habit of being grateful starts with appreciating every good thing in life and recognizing that there is nothing too small for you to be thankful for. Even if it’s as simple as appreciating the clear weather or how quickly your mailman delivered your mail last Friday, don’t leave anything out when practicing your gratitude.
- Volunteer: For many people, the key to having more gratitude is to give back to others in their local parish or local community. Not only will it make you more grateful for the things that you may take for granted, but studies have shown that volunteering for the purpose of helping others increases our own well-being, and thus our ability to have more gratitude. (University of Pennsylvania researcher Martin Seligman found that volunteering is the single most reliable way to momentarily increase your well-being.)
- Remember that materialism fuels ingratitude. Our culture and greed often lead us into a vicious circle of materialism: The more we get, the more we want. Materialism leads to the “give me” mindset in which “stuff” fills the void of our hearts. It is important to focus on the non-material world where we share our thanks with words of affirmation, kind deeds, and prayers of thanksgiving. This is especially true with raising children. In fact, we do not always need to “reward” them with things, but instead we can affirm them and their dignity as children of God. Consider praying before making a big purchase or a spontaneous one.
We wish you the most happy and healthy Thanksgiving ever, and we pray that we all might be open to and grateful for everything God accomplishes in our lives!