I love this time of year. Thanksgiving brings with it all the flavors of fall foods as well as a reflection on all the blessings in my life which prompt me to gratitude.
It’s also the first of what I call the Holy Trinity of Holidays, the other two being Christmas and New Year’s Day. It all starts with gratitude and then moves to the ultimate reason for gratitude and concludes with a renewal of commitment to that ultimate reason. That’s a great backdrop for my Sermon on the Mount study, an annual tradition in which I renew my discipleship to Christ.
Of course, friends of other faiths have their own commitment to following Christ, though their understanding differs from ours and the manifestations of that commitment also differ. I appreciate other perspectives because they help me to question my own, and that helps me to seek after core naked truth. That process strengthens my own faith and commits me more on my own road of discipleship.
Gratitude as a lifestyle
There’s a sign from another church that did just that for me. The messages change often, and I like them because they often make me think about what I truly believe. This latest iteration was no exception to that rule.
We’ve all heard the admonition to have an attitude of gratitude. But the simple message “Thanksgiving is not a day; it’s a lifestyle” really got me thinking. Sure, it sounds catchy. It’s phrased such that most of us would be quick to agree with it. But do we really believe that? I had to question that for myself.
What does it mean to make gratitude a lifestyle? Taking one day out of the year to reflect on what we are grateful for is great, but one day out of 365 is not even one third of one percent of the year. That hardly qualifies as a lifestyle.
Lifestyle implies if not outright means more or less everyday. Am I doing anything on a daily basis to include gratitude as a part of my life? Are you?
Making an attempt
I had my own struggle with that question earlier this year. Or perhaps it would be more precise to say this time last year. I wanted to do something that would make gratitude a larger part of my life, and by the end of the year I had determined my approach.
I determined to begin each journal entry by listing three things for which I was grateful. It seemed like a good idea. I wanted to do better writing in my journal every day, and I wanted to make gratitude a larger part of my life. Why not kill two proverbial birds with one stone?
The problem was that I wasn’t writing in my journal that often, and by Easter I was writing in it sporadically if at all. And with that absence of journal writing came an absence of gratitude from my life.
It wasn’t all for nothing, however. There at the start of the year I was doing pretty good with the practice, so I did reap some benefit from it. And looking back now I can see recent events as a call to return to reaping those benefits. I need to embrace gratitude as a lifestyle.
Embracing the lifestyle
It was hard at first. I had not yet developed the habit of recognizing good things in my life for which I was grateful. I struggled to find just three things to start each journal entry.
But as I persisted with the practice, it became easier. And not just at the end of the day when I wrote my journal entry. It was starting to happen all throughout the day! As I started noticing good things more and more throughout my day, those good things began to fill my focus. And as I’ve posted before, your focus becomes your reality. So guess what my reality became? It got really good.
Thanksgiving really is more than just a day. It’s a lifestyle. And when we make gratitude a part of our lifestyle, the wonder and splendor of living begin to open up to us. I drifted out of that practice, but I see now the clarion call to return. I’m grateful I don’t have to wait to have my life open up to me. And I’m not going to wait.
And neither should you. Don’t wait to have your life open up to you. Find your way to make gratitude a part of your lifestyle. When you fill your focus with good things, you begin to see how many good things already fill your reality. And that lays the foundation for even better things to join your reality.
Howdy! I'm Lance, host of Joy in the Journey Radio. I've been blogging about LDS singles life since 2012, and now I produce a weekly radio show to help LDS singles have more joy in their journey and bring all Latter-day Saints together. Let's engage a conversation that will increase the faith of LDS singles and bring singles and marrieds together in a true unity of the faith.
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