“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’ s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

A Thanksgiving tradition is going around the table to share what we are thankful for, most people say they are grateful for family, friends, a roof over your head.  But what do you say when you are in a season of suffering, perhaps you suffered the loss of a loved one, or a job or something causing you heartache or pain?

Everyone may have their family traditions, but we all encounter the challenges of storms of life. Complicated and sorrowful as they may be, the season of storms can lead to a path of thankfulness.

We all go through seasons of happiness and joy as well as seasons of grief and sorrow and if you are in a season of pain as Thanksgiving is here, it can be especially challenging to find something to be thankful for.

When life is easy, finding things to be thankful for is easy, but difficult during the storms of life.  You may have days of anxiety, feelings of loneliness, an empty wallet or waiting to hear news of a loved one fighting health issues. But thankfulness can be found in finding one simple positive thing, for me it is God, knowing that He is in control, and we can trust Him.

The effects of gratitude change your outlook, look for small things to be thankful for, the sun shining, the smile of a child, the beauty of nature. It may not happen right away but gratitude grows as we start and end each day with a thankful heart.

Many people feel like the holidays are only for happy people but I disagree. If it’s an absent sense of gratitude that’s making you feel cut-off from Thanksgiving, I want to offer a thought. Just as the holidays aren’t only for happy people, neither is gratitude. You don’t have to choose between grief or feeling grateful. It’s okay to acknowledge this and to recognize your grief or sadness. But the bottom line is, it’s okay to acknowledge the fact that you’re feeling anything but grateful. It’s okay to not feel grateful.

Finding something to be grateful for doesn’t minimize or erase the difficult thoughts, memories, and emotions you are experiencing. Grief can make people feel cheated, angry, self-focused, bitter, lonely, isolated, resentful, guilty, sad, anxious, worried, or depressed. But gratitude has been shown to help. Even though Thanksgiving may feel different this year, actively seeking gratitude can be an empowering way to reclaim a part of the holiday for yourself.

This Thanksgiving, look for something you can be thankful for even if you are in the midst of the storms of life.

I recently read a book by John Kralik called 365 Thank Yous

I recently read a book by John Kraulik called 365 Thank Yous.  A man going through a season life storms stepped back and recognized that life may be more bearable, instead of focusing on what he did not have, he could find some way to be grateful for what he did have.  He was inspired by a simple note an ex-girlfriend sent to thank him for his Christmas gift, John imagined that he might find a way to feel grateful by writing thank-you notes. He set the goal of writing 365 thank you notes, one by one, day after day he handwrote thank yous for gifts of kindness past and present, however large or small.   This daily habit turned his life around and renewed his mind to find the simple grateful and thankful things he had never truly recognized to finding joy in what we do have.

Deep inside the grateful heart is the treasure of the joy that the whole world seeks.  My prayer is for you to find gratitude and thankfulness during the holiday.  If you are looking to build a habit of gratitude, sign up for emails on joythroughjoy.com and download a free 21-day gratitude journal.

Love and Peace,