The other day, I (Robin) was sitting on the couch after a long day in the office. I was so tired. Oddly enough, most of the family was sitting together in the living room downstairs. Avery, our 9yr old son, said, “Dad, look at me. I am going to do 20 somersaults on the floor.” Honestly, I thought, “Why in the world are you going to do 20 rolls on the floor? I don’t think I have the energy or focus to watch you do something so boring. Can’t you do something else?”
Without being able to contest or put him off, he jumped into the air and started rolling across the floor. He rolled and rolled and rolled some more. He linked as many rolls together as he could. Then, he would run into a couch, turn and continue rolling. With each roll, I melted a little. My brain began to focus and my heart began to melt. I began to cheer for him and count loudly for each roll. He went from 20 rolls to 30 to 40 and finally collapsed after 50 consecutive rolls. I was yelling for him to keep going. He laid on his back, arms stretched wide, looking at the ceiling, and breathing heavily. He said, “I’m done.”
As soon as he finished, I realized that I was so thankful for him. I was so thankful that he was alive and could roll on the floor. I was thankful he could call my name. I was thankful that he was interested in impressing me with the seemingly meaningless skill of consecutive somersaults. God has a way of using things like somersaults as an alarm clock, waking us from our deep slumber.
Our blistering pace of life seems to put to rest our thankgiving. I think there is a feeling of gratitude way below the surface. We all understand that we don’t deserve the blessings, the people, the life we live. However, we rarely slow down long enough to actually allow those “thoughts of thanks” to bubble up to the surface and make themselves known.
Enter Thanksgiving (you know, the 4th Thursday of November). It’s a good thing. If not, we would probably go years before some issue of life hit us up across the head and finally woke us up.
Why are you thankful this year? A better question may be: What are you thankful for today? Does it take a while to dig something up? We are conditioned to think we need more…that what we have could always be improved or increased. That type of thinking naturally washes away a thankful, content heart. Maintaining a thankful heart in the midst of struggle or hard work is near impossible.
My thoughts on how to change that: Start a Daily Thankful Habit
We all have some good, daily habits. You know, little ones that make a big difference. We tell our kids we love them. We hug our spouse. We pray for our food. What if we added a little thankful habit? Maybe we need a Thankful App on our phone or a notification on our tablet. Take 5 min and slow down. Meditate on it. Write it down. Post it. Journal it. Tell someone. Tell God.
You need a plan.
Plan what you will do. Plan what you will do for the 5min. Will you simply meditate on it? What will stimulate the thoughts? What will you do with the thoughts (write them, talk to others, post them)?
Plan when you will do it. Plan how you will remember to do it. Find some other pattern or habit that is secure and attach this habit to it. OR attach the habit to a certain thought you have each day. You need a trigger to activate the habit. If you don’t connect a new habit to a trigger, you will not remember to do it. Plan a way to remember it for the first 2 months. Some say it takes 21 days to establish a habit. Maybe I am slow, but I have learned it takes me 2 or 3 months.
Plan who will be involved. Plan who can help you generate this thankful lifestyle. Who in your life could continue this conversation of gratitude (probably someone who you are already thankful for)? Maybe you simply find someone new each week to share your thoughts with.
Warning: using social media as a venue for expressing gratitude is dangerous. I am all for honoring others publicly, however using social media can quickly reverse the conversation and make it about your fulfillment instead of expressing gratitude with integrity. I have often posted something on Facebook and find myself going back to see who all liked it and commented on it. My thoughts are sometimes tainted with disappointment if that particular post didn’t get as much traction as I wanted. Maybe none of you are like that. In that case, disregard my warning and keep posting. 🙂