We are getting down to the wire now as we are getting our last minute Christmas preparations done…I can’t believe we’re down to one weekend before the big day! As I sat making my last minute list of everything I still need to do and was checking it twice – buy groceries and don’t forget the eggnog, clean the house, buy some Christmas scented candles and cinnamon pinecones so the house smells perfectly festive, wrap the presents and don’t forget the bows, buy a bunch of batteries for all those gifts that didn’t come with them, and so on and so forth… going over it twice reminded me of another list I should be going over twice each day:
I was in a meeting once where we were asked by a speaker to do an exercise. We were each given a piece of paper and a pencil and we were asked to take five minutes to quietly begin writing on our paper a list of all of the things we were grateful for. We were to write every tangible and non-tangible thing we could think of in our lives that we felt thankful for. The room was silent and we all began writing feverishly on our papers. I started my list with the obvious things like my family and my faith and my friends, but as I continued writing the thoughts of everything I am thankful for came pouring into my mind and my paper was quickly filling up to the point I had to turn it around and start writing in the margins to fit everything. When the speaker said to stop I was still miles away from finishing my entire list as the thoughts in my head kept coming. But we put our pencils down and looked up at our speaker. Then she asked us to each look at our own lists of what we had written down and to consider when is the last time we thought to thank God for these items in our prayers. It really made me stop and realize that although I pray daily and always try to thank god for my “blessings”, it had been a really long time since I had stopped to thank him for the blessings by name.
I think we forget sometimes to truly express gratitude on a regular basis for all the things we have been blessed with. I know that I am far quicker to get on my knees and ask for specific help when things are going wrong in my life, than I am to get on my knees and give specific thanks when things are going right. That is something I really want to get better at doing – Thanking God for the specific things I am grateful for every single day.
Expressing gratitude is one of the best ways to change our emotions. It can take us from being sad to being happy in an instant. It can lift our spirit and improve our mood. It’s amazing how powerful an influence feeling grateful can have on us for the better. It’s impossible to feel depressed and grateful in the same moment…not only that but studies have shown that people who are thankful are not just happier but they are healthier too!
We should all make a gratitude list of all the specific things we are grateful for. Then we should check it twice every single day of our lives and add to it as our list of blessings grow. And at the end of each day when we get down on our knees to pray we should thank God for every one of the items on our list.
~Amy Rees Anderson (author of the newly released book “What Awesome Looks Like: How To Excel in Business & Life” )