When was the last time you said thank you for being alive? Sounds silly, doesn’t it? Well, if you barely have time to appreciate what you have, how can you ever desire anything more? If you aren’t grateful for what you already have, why would God give you more?
Be thou happy and well pleased and arise to offer thanks to God, in order that thanksgiving may conduce to the increase of bounty. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 484.)
We all have something to be thankful for, even those who live a modest lifestyle by choice or by circumstance.
Focusing on material possessions, rather than on the very fact that we’re living and breathing, tends to make us forgetful of the greater gifts, such as our families, our health and our Faith.
Be thankful to God for having enabled you to recognize His Cause. (Shoghi Effendi, The Directives of the Guardian, p. 73)
Life is a miracle and can be taken away in a moment’s notice. Regardless of your spiritual beliefs, there are many ways you can show your appreciation for your life.
5 Ways to Express Your Gratitude
Sometimes showing your gratitude can be as simple as saying “thanks,” but other times you can show gratitude by helping others, or “paying it forward.” After all, you’ll never know how a simple, kind gesture will affect someone’s day.
Here are some ideas to help you appreciate life while also helping others:
1. Reach out to your extended family and friends. Send them cards just to say “Hi,” call or email them, or even throw a party to reconnect and show these people they’re important to you.
2. Reflect about your childhood and ancestors. Write a poem, essay, or short story about your life. What sacrifices did your parents make for you? What struggles did the family endure? How is your life better or easier than that of your great-grandparents? How did these events make you the person you are today?
3. Meditate, pray, or go to your place of worship. Find a quiet place to think about all that’s good – your health, family, or home – and simply say “thank you” to your Creator.
If we should offer a hundred thousand thanksgivings every moment to the threshold of God…we would fail to express our gratitude sufficiently. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 37)
4. Reconnect with your spouse and children. Actions speak louder than words so turn off that television and spend some quality time with your family just to have some fun! Whether it’s a surprise getaway or a family game night, renewing your relationships with your family will strengthen your bond and bring you closer together.
5. Keep a gratitude journal. Write down all the things you’re grateful for in your life and reflect on all that is good. Even the simplest things – such as finding a parking space at the mall or locating your missing keys – are times to be grateful!
When You Need a Wake Up Call
Sometimes it’s all too easy to engage in these activities and give thanks for a good life, yet over time, we somehow fall back into our old habits. In these times, we need a jolt to remind ourselves of all that is good.
Spend a few hours a week volunteering at a hospital, nursing home, or soup kitchen. Take a good look at the people you’re helping, listen to their stories, and be grateful that you’re fortunate enough to help those in need.
To thank Him for this, make ye a mighty effort, and choose for yourselves a noble goal. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 35-36.)
Giving IS Receiving
When you give of yourself – either with a smile or another kind gesture – you receive the warm satisfaction of helping to make a difference in the world, one person at a time. Your uplifting attitude will be contagious and you just might be the recipient of a random act of kindness!
What’s been your experience with giving thanks? Post your comment below!