Deep and Wide Thankfulness
One of the keys to becoming more like Jesus is cultivating thankfulness to God. To build a life permeated by thankfulness, we need to give thanks regularly. So think about when you can add thankfulness to your day. Maybe it is first thing in the morning, or the last thing at night. Maybe it is an extended grace before dinner, or while you are in the shower. You might even program your smart phone with daily reminders. I know some people who have paired up with another person and committed to daily emailing each other 10 things they are thankful for.
Whatever you choose to do, it will start as a discipline, but with persistence it will progress to a habit, and then become a lifestyle.
But what can we give thanks for?
It can sometimes feel like we just repeat the same things each time. To help keep your thankfulness meaningful and fresh, think about Deep Thankfulness and Wide Thankfulness.
Wide Thankfulness: This is where you pick an area of life and then just think of as many things as you can about that area that you can be thankful for. For example you could pick 'transport' and then begin to thank God for your car (if you have one), the people that made it, the people that service it, the people that made the roads you drive on, the traffic lights that help control traffic, the airconditioning in your car, public transport, those who drive trains, trams and buses, those who work shifts so we can get to and from events on weekends and evenings, those who make petrol and provide electricty that help our cars and trains run,...... With a bit of practice you will find yourself giving thanks for a whole lot of things that we often take for granted.
Here are a few examples of areas of life which you could use to practice Wide Thankfulness:
food - all the people involved in producing and providing us with it;
our bodies - all the different parts and how they work;
water - our clean water and sewerage systems;
education - all those who have taught us things from when we were children up to today;
books - how they have informed and entertained us, those who wrote them, those who printed them
animals - all the different types and how they contribute to the environment,
health system - all the people involved, the technology and drugs that are available
the house/room you are in - all the different things in it.
This is where you pick one aspect of life and then spend time reflecting deeply on how that one thing has been a profound blessing to your life. Rather than giving thanks for lots of different things (wide thankfulness), take time to cultivate a sense of thankfulness deep in your soul about that one thing. For example you could think about the clean water that comes out of your taps and recall how it has: kept you alive; kept you healthy; meant you haven't had to walk kilometers each day to a well; cooled you down in hot summers; warmed you up in cold winters (when boiled and and turned into coffee/tea); and enabled you to wash yourself, your dishes and your clothes. You can then think about how your life would have been so different if you hadn't had it. And then before rushing on to the next thing - think about those things again. Then let thankfulness to God permeate all of you - body and soul. And then pause for a while and sit in that state of deep thankfulness.
You might like to alternate between these two ways of being thankful - one day Wide Thankfulness
and the next day Deep Thankfulness
Final Note: Practicing thankfulness is not about pretending that we are thankful for something we aren't really thankful for. It is about identifying things we are thankful for and giving thanks for them in both deep and wide ways, even in the midst of difficulties.