Giving thanks is such a great exercise. For me, challenging myself to count my blessings helps my day. When I go deeper and find 10, 15, or even 20 things for which to be grateful, my spirit centers on the love of Christ. Saying, “Thank you, Lord,” daily is a spiritual workout. It gets easier the more I do it.
In the U.S., Thanksgiving is a celebration of gratitude. At this holiday, some families gather together. They go around the table and each one says, “I am thankful for___.” This tradition pushes our feeling of thankfulness from the privacy of our hearts. Our thankfulness becomes public. We have to say what we appreciate out loud.
The result of this tradition can be performative. Someone might say they appreciate their spouse when they know the spouse is listening. Performative expressions of gratitude cheapen the experience. I do not mean to criticize this tradition. It is a good step, especially when people say something for which they are truly thankful.
Making the act of thanksgiving a regular part of living enriches the experience. Saying several things for which you are grateful every day nudges you toward reflecting that appreciation in the way you live. If I say I appreciate my spouse each day in my prayers, my actions follow this prayer. My life reflects this gratitude.
The logic same applies to things many of us take for granted. If we thank God for food, clothing, and shelter each day, we notice more in the world. We become more attuned to those who wrestle with food instability or hunger. We see (or notice) more homeless people. Our prayers of gratitude form our spiritual lives.
Like we all need to exercise our bodies, we each need to exercise our spirit. Giving thanks is like running or sit-ups. The more we do it, the easier it gets. Thanksgiving is a great time to begin the regular practice of giving thanks.