You Need to Start Practicing This//M-Note 11.24.22

Recently in a message, I said that gratitude is like penicillin for the soul. Gratitude is linked to everything from better sleep to lower blood pressure, stronger relationships to better self-esteem. Creating a habit of giving thanks literally and spiritually improves your life. I think that is why God so often reminds us to be thankful and to focus on what we have instead of what we don't, what is here instead of what isn’t. While gratitude is healthy anytime, it is much better if we create a habit of practicing it. And there is no better day to start that habit than today. So, I thought I would offer 5 easy ideas for making gratitude a daily practice in your life.
 
1.     Gratitude Journal
 
Okay, mine is more like gratitude bullet points. Keep a simple notebook on your nightstand (or use your phone) and each night as you get ready for bed, write down something from the day that gave you life and why. It is usually small stuff. You don’t have to come up with a list, just one thing per day. And then say thank you to God for it. It takes a couple minutes at most, but over time its benefits will surprise you.
 
2.     Write a Note
 
Take time this weekend to choose one person who has played a role in your life and write them a thank you note. Tell them what they did and how it impacted you. Then, thank them. You can send this anyway you want, but I find that good old-fashioned mail is the best way. If it is fun for you, try doing it once a week. You’ll be amazed by the difference this will make in the lives of people around you, and it takes 5-10 minutes a week.
 
3.     Dinner Questions
 
I admit, my kids roll their eyes when I do this, but it works, and they engage. If you have a family, try eating together at least once a week. When you do, ask one question related to gratitude that everyone has to answer. It can be as simple as “What is one thing that you are really glad happened today?” or “What was the best thing that happened last week?”. Then say a prayer thanking God for those occurrences. It is a fun way to connect as a family and after the moaning, most kids will come up with some pretty cool answers.
 
4.     Words of Affirmation
 
I love this one. Each day, I try to pay attention to people who just seem to go above and beyond. It is easy to be disappointed, but it takes work to pay attention to what is good. And then go a step further and offer a compliment or kind word. This can be with coworkers, family, or even relative strangers. But try it, and you’ll see what a difference it makes in the lives of others (and in you). Extra bonus points if you share a positive compliment today with someone that really irritates you. It is good for you.
 
5.     Morning Prayer
 
Each morning (usually in the shower), I thank God for the simple opportunity of a new day. It is easy to take basic things for granted, but each day I wake up is a gift, and there is promise and potential in it. I try to take a moment every morning to thank God for a new day, a new chance, and I ask God to help me not waste it, not miss something important, and to be open to what the day might bring. It is so simple, and yet the habit has been powerful for me, especially if I can remember it throughout the day.
 
I hope all of you have a great day. Do something fun, eat some food, and find time to rest. This weekend is the start of the Christmas season at The Gathering and worship is going to be incredible as we start our new series Christmas: The Music and the Meaning. We will be focusing on the most well-known songs we sing and what they teach us about our faith in Christ. I can’t wait to see you and bring your family if they are still around.
 
Peace,
Matt
 
P.S. The Gathering’s Christmas Eve schedule is set, including several early services for those of you going out-of-town. You can find all the services and details here. Also we need even more people willing to serve during the Christmas season at The Gathering. Serving is another great way to express gratitude. If you are interested in serving this month, let us know here.


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