Bring on the turkey, the stuffing and the mashed potatoes.  Line up the desserts!  Here comes the family.  From the favorite uncle to the crazy cousin, the whole crew shows up.  Americans love to celebrate, and nothing says celebrate like way too much food.  Oh, Thanksgiving!

But what’s the point?

As a country, we pause long enough to shovel food into our mouths before we line up in front of stores for stuff we don’t need. 

We’ve forgotten how to be thankful.  And, well, what’s the point of being grateful, anyway?

The never-ending access to social media shows us the “perfect” lives of friends and family.  The constant images of vacations we can't take and cars we can't afford make it hard to be grateful.  

For others, life might be tough right now.  Finances are stressful or a loved one died recently.  Family drama.  Relationship stress.  Hard to be gateful when life hurts.

God tells us to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).  Easy to forget when life is easy.  Hard to be thankful when life is hard. 

But being grateful is good for you.  And science supports this.  Research says people who are grateful are healthier* and happier.** 

How awesome is it that science keeps backing up what God tells us???

Okay, so God says to be thankful, even when life is hard, and being grateful is good for us.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Find 5 things to be grateful for every day.   Some days are the crawl-back-in-bed-and-start-over kind of days.  Find something.  Maybe you scored a close parking spot at the store.  Or someone called just to say you’re loved.  You’re healthy.  Your makeup was on sale.  Find something. 

2. Stop comparing your life to your friends and family.  We get so wrapped up wishing we had someone else’s life. Or car.  Or parents.  Or money. Or boyfriend.  The list never ends.   Constantly wishing for something else will keep you from enjoying today. 

3. Talk to God.  First, says thanks for what He has given you.  Then, tell Him your frustrations and struggles.  He already knows, but He loves when we spend time with Him.  Ask for help.  Maybe you struggle with spending money.  Maybe you have a hard time feeling loved.  You feel inadequate.  Whatever the issue, He’s waiting for you to talk to Him.  And when you see the changes you ask for - well, you’ll have one more reason to say thanks.

Let us know what you think!  Comment below.

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*Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(2), 377-389.

**Emmons, R.A. (2008) Thanks! How the New Sci­ence of Grat­i­tude Can Make You Happier. Mariner Books; Reprint edition.

About the Author

kristenhodges

Kristen lives in Florida with her awesome husband and 3 energetic kids. She earned a graduate degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of Michigan and is a psychology professor at a local university. In her free time, she hangs out with family and friends, volunteers at her church and laughs as much as possible. She has a passion for Jesus, helping others and anything chocolate. Follow her on instagram @kristen_hodges_cg