being thankful

4 Things Being Thankful Does

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One of the writers for iMOM, our sister site, taught high school for a year at the North Pole. OK, it wasn’t the literal North Pole. It was in North Pole, a small town in the middle of Alaska. I looked up the weather at the end of August and the low temperature of the day was 46 degrees. In August! It starts snowing there in September, and by Thanksgiving, the temperatures most likely are in the negatives. Despite the conditions, she said her year there was one of her favorite years of teaching. When I asked her why, she said that many people there, including the high school students, are thankful for the things they’ve been given.

I’ve spent a lot of time with teenagers and I love them, but thankful is probably not the first word I would use to describe them. And yet, in a small town in Alaska, that’s the description. Because of that, this former teacher says teaching in that town is one of her fondest memories. Being thankful can have a big impact on our lives and on those around us. So today, as you gather around the table to give thanks, remember to stay thankful every day. Here are 5 things being thankful does.

1. It lets us see the world in a different way.

Too many of us focus on what we don’t have. It makes us consistently unsatisfied. When we get what we want, it assuages us momentarily. Then we want something else. It’s a hole we’re never able to fill until we focus on what we have with gratitude. That makes us content.

2. It makes us appreciate the little things.

There are so many beautiful moments that we miss every day. Saturday Night Live alum Jim Breuer discussed his wife’s battle with cancer earlier this year and the heartbreaking reality that the doctors couldn’t do anything. A friend asked if he was mad at God. He said he would never be mad about what he won’t have, but he would be forever grateful for the love and companionship he’s shared with her for 30 years. When we’re grateful, we stop taking everyday blessings for granted.

People who are thankful spend more time focused on what matters, and because of that, they live with joy.

3. It makes life better for those around you.

People who are thankful show an appreciation for the people in their lives. So those around them feel encouraged and valued. There is also a contagious effect. Your general attitude will rub off on your family and friends. A negative attitude drains energy, but an attitude of thankfulness has a way of filling people with love and hope.

4. It focuses our hearts on the things that matter.

We get bent out of shape by a lot of foolish things, things that don’t matter in the grand scheme. I’ll never forget how I felt when my dad passed away. All the things that stressed me out or bothered me the day before were gone. None of it mattered. All that mattered to me was my dad, the people I loved, and God. King David wrote this about God in Psalm 16:11, which says, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” People who are thankful spend more time focused on what matters than on what doesn’t, and because of that, they live with joy. What are you focused on?

Earn some points: Are you married? If so, share this iMOM article with your wife: 10 Things for Moms to be Thankful For.

Sound off: What are some other things that being thankful does to our lives?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What are you grateful for?”