A Fast, Easy Way to Be Happier – Be Thankful
The Magic of a Thankful Spirit
Have you ever basked in the glow of someone who is almost magical? Some people in this world… and you probably know 1 or 2… just have the ability to make those around them feel GOOD! How do they do it? I venture to guess it is a combination of things. One of those things, that you can quickly imitate, is a thankful spirit.
I don’t just mean these people say grace before a meal. I mean they really really have a thankful spirit. They are thankful for the people they get to start conversations with. They are thankful for their jobs and their families. They are probably even thankful for problems because they give them a chance to grow.
Let’s think about this magic for a second. Imagine one of these glowing, happy people sees you sitting alone. You look up and smile. What might this glowing person do? Well, he might not come right out and tell you he is thankful for you and for the place he is in and for his life and for his problems. But lets look at his actions and see if we can pick up on any of that. Rewind to the moment right before he sees you.
1. Walking into the other end of the room, he has a pleasant, contented look on his face. This shows that he is content with his life. Or if he happens to be a little stressed with his job or his kids, he is still so comfortable being himself.
2. He starts across the room, and when he sees you he lights up! This shows that he is thankful for you.
3. He waves at you. This is an action he takes to show you he is glad to see you.
4. He also smiles at other people on his end of the room. He is thankful for them, too.
5. He stops and chats with a sports mom, and before you know it a small group of people form. He has a track record of friendliness, so people feel comfortable walking up to him.
6. He talks about the event he’s at with some knowledge, yet he draws out other people through asking questions. He is genuinely interested in them.
7. He works his way over to you. You’re still important to him.
8. He remembers something you mentioned in a previous conversation and asks you a follow up question. He is genuinely thankful for you, and he cares enough to remember things about you.
9. You ask about an event in his life, and he answers you. This shows he respects you enough to not leave you hanging.
10. He follows up the answer quickly with a joke. He lives in the present moment, so he had the brain capacity to think up a joke. He loves life enough to love to laugh. He wants to make you feel good.
11. The conversations continues for a few minutes until one or both of you have to leave. He makes you a priority when he is talking to you, because he is thankful for you. He has a fulfilling, busy life that he is happy to get back to when the conversation ends.
12. You know next time you talk to him it’s going to be a great experience. He left you feeling good.
Internalize a Thankful Spirit
Thankfulness is a Skill
Thankfulness starts in your thought life. It is a skill. All of our words and all of our voluntary actions start out as thoughts. And no matter how good or bad our circumstances are, we can choose to be thankful!
The Bible explained this concept long before I did. Luke 6:45 NKJV says, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” And Mark 7:15 NKJV says, “There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man.”
I admit, although I am a thankful person, I feel like I can improve in this area. Truly internalizing a thankful spirit can be more than thinking, “Thank you for this family, this job, and this life.” What about when someone wrongs me? What about when life is unfair? And here is the BIG one. … What is I made a huge mistake that altered the course of my entire life? Can I be thankful then? Yes!
How Can I Be Thankful When Someone Wrongs me?
When someone wrongs me I can look for the good things the situation caused and be thankful for those things. Did I have to learn some new life skills or interpersonal skills to get through the situation? Good! That’s an asset to me, and I can be thankful. Did it make a decision easier for me by showing I should go in another direction? Great, thank you! Did someone show their true colors before I got more deeply involved or dependent on them? Good! Thanks. Did the conflict happen after we were already committed or dependent? Maybe it brought to light an opportunity for growth in the relationship or showed the need for change or improvement in the company. Thanks! Did the situation make me more dependent on God? While it’s not comfortable to be in that situation, I can be thankful that He cares about me enough to want that kind of close relationship with me and that he loves me enough to want to take care of me.
How Can I Be Thankful When Life is Unfair?
When life is unfair, in addition to thinking some of the things above, I can also think, “Even though life is unfair right now, I know it is unfair to everyone at some point. And I am thankful for all the times life has been fair to me! I am really quite blessed to have had so many people in my life over the years who have cared about doing the right thing.”
How Can I Be Thankful When I Have Made a Huge Mistake?
And now the tough one for me. When I have made a huge mistake that altered the course of my entire life, how can I possibly be thankful? I can embark on a journey to forgiving myself. I can look for the lesson! And I can be thankful for my new life and all the good that can come from the situation.
How can I forgive myself? Start with an honest assessment of the situation. Was it truly all my fault? Or were there factors at play that I couldn’t control? Let myself off the hook for things I couldn’t help. Realize that I was a younger version of myself who perhaps did not have all the skills and knowledge I now possess. Know that everyone makes mistakes. Be thankful mine wasn’t worse! Be thankful the mistake gave me an opportunity to grow and improve as a person.
I can look for the lesson and be thankful for it! And I can be thankful that I won’t make the same mistake again. I can be thankful that the mistake was a building block for the rest of my life. I can look for ways to turn the situation into something good! Can my experience help someone? Awesome! Thanks. I have more life to live? That is such a blessing! Thank you. Did learning from this mistake help me avoid a much bigger mistake in the future? That’s great. Thank you so much!
Finally, I can look at the new course of my life, and I can be thankful for all the good things in it! Am I in a new city with a new job and the chance to meet new people and expand my experience? Wonderful! Have I made a new friend? Great! Do I have a world of new opportunities at my fingertips? I’m so excited! For those of us who are Christians, God’s promise in Romans 8:28 applies. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” This means that He will take all the gunk from my past, all the good and all the horrible mistakes, and He will make something good. That takes a lot of the stress and pressure off right there! I don’t have to wonder if something good will happen again. I know it will! And I can be thankful.
What Can I Be Thankful For? (if I’m out of practice)
If having a thankful spirit doesn’t come easily for you, try working through this list of things you can be thankful for. Basically, you can be thankful for anything! You just have to find the right reason. As you read each item on the list, think of a specific reason you are thankful for each thing. Then add more items to the list!
Externalize a Thankful Spirit
Once you truly feel thankful for everything in your heart, that should start coming through in your actions! What are some ways you can show a thankful spirit? Comment below.
Thankfulness comes through in your nonverbal communication. Negativity can too. That’s why it’s a good idea to internalize thankfulness first. Smile. Enjoy life. Look for the good in every situation. Turn towards people when they ask for your attention. Walk up and talk to people. If appropriate, spend time with people and things you enjoy. Focus on being thankful even when you are by yourself. Listen to people and process what they are saying, rather than trying to think of the next thing you want to say. Play with your dog. Smell the flowers! Soak in the sunshine. Be truly thankful for the little things.
Thankfulness also comes through in your verbal communication. Negativity can really reveal itself in your words as well. Try not to say anything negative unless it is absolutely necessary. Say thank you. Joke around in an uplifting manner. Pass out appropriate compliments freely! Send thank you notes. Make sure people know they are appreciated and valued. If a situation contains a lot of negatives and one positive, focus on the positive. Point out the thing you liked. Be thankful for all of the good things, and make a point of looking for them!
I challenge you to go 24 hours, and only say things that are neutral or positive.
The following 24 hours, only dwell on thoughts that are positive! If a negative thought enters your mind, intentionally think of something positive related to it.
Comment with your results!