I’m engaged in a conspiracy. It’s a conspiracy to celebrate Thanksgiving with as much anticipation and excitement as we approach Halloween or Christmas. Our goal, should you join us, is to replace “Turkey Day” with “The Thanksgiving Season”.
Care to join us? Then let me challenge you with a little practice for the Thanksgiving Season: a gratitude journal.
Every day for the month of November, write down five things for which you are thankful. Don’t let the list languish in the space between your synapses. Put pen to paper (or fingers to keypads), relish the physicality of the moment. Be specific. Mention particular people, events, or activities that blessed you and for which you are thankful.
You might find it best to do this exercise in gratitude in the waning hours of evening. Or you might keep a running log throughout the day. But try it, every day, for this one month.
Researchers at the University of California have shown that a gratitude journal has positive health benefits, including better sleep, improved resistance to disease, and resilience against depression.
Dr. Walt Larimore poses the idea that taking time to intentionally attend to positive emotions (through this kind of thanksgiving exercise) helps build resilience against negative emotions.
Sure there are practical physical wellbeing benefits to practice gratitude.
I have something more important for you.
Scripture teaches us: “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18). Gratitude isn’t just an option – it is God’s will. We are made to worship, not ruminate. We are crafted to perceive in intricate detail the glory of the moment in which we live, and to offer Hallelujah for it. We were made to savor each moment as we would savor a well-crafted meal. For God is the author of our every moment.
Our propensity is toward discontent – toward a “negative bias” that fixates on all that which we perceive is wrong. Yet our calling is to worship, give thanks, and be joyful. Part of Christ’s work is the renewal of our hearts, shaping us to yearn to be joyful always. Another part of Christ’s work is to send the Holy Spirit to teach us how to pray continually and to give thanks in all circumstances.
A gratitude journal is just a tool. It’s not an end, just a means. Why not give it a try, just to see if it does some good for you.
Soli Deo Gloria