Can you believe today is Thanksgiving day? Are you Ready? How will you celebrate? What traditions do you practice?
Thanksgiving day is a time set aside for gratitude. But what is gratitude?
How do you define gratitude? Is it a warm fuzzy feeling as you count your blessings or is it something more?
Experiencing a sense of gratitude means you have been focusing on thoughts of appreciation for the abundance in your life.
You are not born with gratitude. It is something you learn and cultivate as you go through life. It is a conscious and purposeful decision to focus on life’s blessings, and it is a sense of joy and appreciation in response to what you receive be it concrete or abstract.
But would it surprise you if I told you there are different levels of gratitude?
Ordinary vs. Exceptional Gratitude
Ordinary gratitude is something most of us practice. It is reactive and often superficial. Like saying thank you after receiving a gift or when someone holds a door open for you. Or saying grace before we eat or maybe waving your hand in thanks when someone lets you merge into traffic.
These are all good things, and we should express this kind of gratitude every day. But there is another level of gratitude we all have the opportunity to practice.
The next level is exceptional gratitude. This kind of gratitude is intentional, proactive and remarkable. It moves beyond being grateful for the obvious and observable. It allows you to perceive the mustard seed of potential in every situation and move toward giving thanks for the smallest things.
“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV
Exceptional gratitude also involves appreciating and treasuring other people.
Lifestyle Not A Holiday
As we come together to prepare for and celebrate Thanksgiving, this year let’s remember that exceptional gratitude is a lifestyle, not just a holiday.
Living a lifestyle of exceptional gratitude requires intentionality.
“To be grateful is to recognize the love of God in everything he has given us and he has given everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of his love. Every moment of existence is a grace for it brings with it immense graces from him. Gratitude, therefore, takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God for the grateful person knows that God is good not by hearsay but by experience and that is what makes all the difference.” – Thomas Merton
30 Day Challenge
If you are like me, you want to develop a lifestyle of exceptional gratitude. For the next 30 days will you join me and binge on gratitude. Below are twenty suggestions to get you started. As you read them, I’m sure you will come up with some others. Mix and match and practice them daily for the next 30 days. At the end of thirty days evaluate how your life is different and then keep going.
- Count your blessings as you lie in bed in the morning after the alarm goes off.
- Before grace at mealtime, discuss specific things you are grateful for as a family.
- Every day send a brief thank you email to someone who has been helping you.
- Leave mini thank-you notes around the house or the office to thank and encourage your family and coworkers.
- Make a list of things you are grateful for and meditate on it for fifteen minutes.
- Journal you blessings for three minutes before getting into bed at night.
- Go the extra mile to help someone.
- Ask God for a greater sense of awe and appreciation.
- Make a list of seven people who have taught you valuable lessons.
- Praise God for the aspects of your life that are working well.
- Tell God how grateful you are for every time He has given you a second chance at something.
- Recall the best choices you have made as an adult.
- Send a handwritten thank you note to someone every week.
- Carve out a little time each week to review the positive things that happened in the previous week.
- Greet everyone with the type of smile you would exhibit if you had just received great news.
- Offer prayers of thanksgiving in advance for the exciting things you believe God will do in your life.
- Write a former teacher, coach, professor or employer, thanking them for what you appreciate about them.
- Show extreme gratitude for your physical body by upgrading the way you treat it for the next 30 days.
- Say a quick prayer of thanks for all the things in your life that don’t need fixing.
- Make a list of all the people who have pushed you to become a better person.
As you join me in intentionally pursuing a lifestyle of exceptional gratitude, please visit my Facebook page to share you accept the challenge. And be sure to keep the conversation going by sharing how you are practicing gratitude. Then tell us what you are learning and what impact it is having in your life during the next 30 days.
What gratitude blockers weigh you down the most? Have you given thanks to God for the blessings that surround you?