Cultivating Thankfulness

Beginning November 1st, my family and I started keeping a Thanksgiving journal. We have written something we’re thankful for in this journal every day. On Friday, I’ll post some of my favorites. For today, I want to challenge you to consider doing some sort of thankfulness activity with your family.

They key to a meaningful thankfulness activity is getting past the usual “I’m thankful for my family” kind of general comment that most people say when under pressure on such occasions. While being thankful for one’s family is important, getting into the details of life with the deliberate intent to be thankful can truly change a person’s heart.

Here are some suggestions you can try to help facilitate a more in-depth atmosphere of thankfulness in your home:

  1. Have every person write down 10 or more “I am thankful for…” statements. The more, the better. This exhausts the usual “I’m thankful for my family” type of statements and forces a look into the details of life.
  2. Make a list of all the usual “I am thankful for…” statements ahead of time (hint: they are usually the first five that most people think of) and make these off limits when having everyone come up with their own thankfulness statement.
  3. Focus the thankfulness activity on the people in the room. Have each person write three “I am thankful for…” statements about each person participating.

A thankful heart doesn’t come naturally for most people, if truly for anyone. A thankful heart must be cultivated.

This Thanksgiving, challenge yourself and your family to be more thankful in the days, months and years ahead. Consider making one of the above or another thankfulness activity a part of your Thanksgiving family tradition. Choose to cultivate thankfulness.

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Be determined. Pursue simplicity. Find balance. Be curious. Be deliberate. Be intentional. Age gracefully. Make the most of every opportunity.


Mark Allman
November 21, 2012 at 9:35 am

As a family sometimes when we are on trips one of us will say we should say what we are thankful for. We then will go from person to person saying what we are thankful for and go for as many rounds as we can. Other times we will pick a person and sometimes it is because it is their birthday or because they have done something special and we we do the same and go round and round saying what we like about them and what about them we are thankful for.

    November 21, 2012 at 9:47 am

    Great way to cultivate thankfulness on a regular basis. We go on lots of road trips and are always looking for bonding activities. Think I'll try your suggestion on our next trip.

Mark Allman
November 21, 2012 at 10:34 am

I think it is pretty special to the person when we are honoring them by saying what we love about them or what about them we are thankful for. They seem to beam quietly.

November 21, 2012 at 12:32 pm

I've heard of a tradition of going around the table at Thanksgiving and saying what you're thankful for. I've also heard of people going around the table and saying why they're thankful for each of the other people there. We traditionally have Thanksgiving in a large family environment where this wouldn't be feasible – but I like this idea of writing things down. Perhaps this is something we could do on the trip to see family (a several hour drive).

    November 21, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    We wrote it down, so we would have a keepsake. We're going to use the same book we used this year for next year, and we'll be able to read over what we wrote this year. I plan to do something on our next road trip too. Mark's comments have inspired that, especially with the idea of encouraging someone and seeing them beam.

November 21, 2012 at 3:02 pm

i am thankful for this blog…

November 27, 2013 at 10:49 pm

I love the picture of the bread heart wrapped in tiny hands with a scripture…may I use it as a Facebook pic? 🙂 I would add your name as the photographer if so. No worries if not, just wanted to ask.

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