“Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is needed.”(Margaret Cousins)
I don’t want to jump from Halloween right into Christmas, eclipsing Thanksgiving as I observed many stores in the mall doing. Let’s be proactive and intentionally discipline ourselves into true Thanksgiving.
Today I am beginning one of my favorite projects. The Gratitude Project. Researchers R.A. Emmons and M.E. McCullough found that grateful, optimistic people have more energy, feel more connected to the world, are more spiritually aware, and even have better functioning immune systems. People who are able to see the positive side of their own life tend to describe themselves as happier and more satisfied in general. This holds true regardless of the participants’ age, health, or wealth.*
So let’s get started!
2. Decorate this calendar so it grabs the attention of all who come into your house.
3. Home schooled students can create this project and use it as a writing project.
4. Other children in the home can help decorate the poster by coloring leaves or adding sequins or glitter.
5. My children are all grown so I will decorate the poster myself with colorful leaf and pumpkin stickers.
6. Hang this poster where it can be seen. I will tape mine to the kitchen door.
7. Each day family members write what he/she is grateful for.
8. Invite any house guests, visitors, playmates, neighbors, teen friends that visit, etc. to do the same.
After 26 days you will have told God “thank you” at least 26 times. In addition, it will:
- Bless God.
- Model for family the act of Thanksgiving.
- Create an atmosphere of gratitude.
- Show visitors in Whom you put your trust.
- Help young children practice writing skills.
- Create a habit of giving thanks and choosing a heart of gratitude.
Years ago I put up a bulletin board in the hallway outside my college classroom entitled, 14 days of Gratitude, the number of weekdays between Halloween and Thanksgiving. The instructions were simply stated beside the board:
Each day write one thing you are grateful for.
The experience was amazing.
Students were late to class because they were still writing….
Tears or laughter over another’s gift of thanksgiving that they could relate to…
A realization that life isn’t that bad.
I even observed two male students, still in high school but also attending college, spot the brightly colored board and after reading the directions, list their thoughts.
A dose of good medicine…that’s what it felt like to me.
Content, peaceful, blessed.
Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 5:20 (NIV)
If this gratitude project hits you at a particularly hard time, you can thank God that He is faithfully with you and will help you during this season.
I will praise the name of God with a song, and magnify Him with Thanksgiving.
Psalm 69:30 (NKJV)
*R.A. Ammons and M.E. McCullough, “Counting blessings verses burdens: Experimental studies of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 84, no.2 (2003): 377-89.
Debbie is co-founder of Shine! Ministries and a partner with The Polished Conference. She is the author of one Bible Study, “Shine! Young Women Radiating the Love of God,” available at Grace-publishing.com or amazon.com. She would love to speak at your next women’s event, teen event, or at the college where she brings an inspirational message to teachers in training called, “A Christian Perspective for an Inspirational Classroom.” For more information visit her website: www.debbiepresnell.com or visit her page on facebook: shineministriesnc. Contact her directly at email@example.com