“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” (1 Chronicles 16:34)
The main reason to give thanks is because God is good. It’s good for us to verbalize that. However, there is an additional benefit to giving thanks. As with the rest of God’s commands, it is good for us to do it.
Psychologist Martin Seligman reports that after teaching psychology for 25 years he has never had so much fun, nor have his teacher ratings been so high as when he taught “positive psychology.” In his book, Flourishing, he describes the life-changing “Three Blessings” exercise. It’s quite simple:
“Every night for the next week, set aside ten minutes before you go to sleep. Write down three things that went well today and why they went well. You may use a journal or your computer to write about the events, but it is important that you have a physical record of what you wrote. The three things need not be earthshaking in importance (“My husband picked up my favourite ice cream for dessert on the way home from work today”), but they can be important (“My sister just gave birth to a healthy baby boy!”). Next to each event, answer the question, “Why did this happen?” For example, if you write that your husband picked up ice cream, write “because my husband is really thoughtful sometimes” or “because I remembered to call him from work and remind him to stop by the grocery store.” Or if you wrote, “My sister just gave birth to a healthy baby boy,” you might pick as the cause “God was looking out for her” or “She did everything right during her pregnancy.”
1. Improved Mood and Health
Seligman reports that this simple exercise of giving thanks – and writing it down – turns people’s attention away from a focus on the negative or challenging aspects of life, and infuses them with a new energy and a positive attitude that has huge benefits from an improved mood to improved health. (Click HERE to read more)
2. Shift in Focus
I’ve tried this exercise. I, like you, have plenty of challenges in life that are daunting and energy draining. But when I sat down and began typing the good things that happened each day, I found it difficult to just write three – there were so many more! But I hadn’t been thinking of them as much as my challenges.
3. Restful Sleep
Doing this exercise before going to sleep puts the mind into a grateful state, which makes for better rest. For whatever we are thinking about when we go to sleep is usually what our subconscious mind works on all night long. That’s why we can wake up exhausted – our mind and spirit never quit fretting all night long. Giving thanks is a way to change that.
4. An Infusion of Life
There is something really good about developing a thankful attitude. It’s not Pollyanna living (pretending everything is rosy). It’s a robust, God-aware gratitude attitude that actually infuses life into an otherwise challenging existence. This is a purposeful attention to the good rather than fretting about the bad. And it is life-giving.
Thanksgiving is something that should be done every day, not just once a year. Developing a spirit of thanksgiving is a feast we can enjoy – and share with others – all year long.