When was the last time you actively looked for and reflected upon the positives in your life? Taking the time to recognize these positives encourages us, lifts our spirits and empowers us, especially when we share them with others.
Below is a simple exercise you can do this holiday season that can help you draw spiritual strength from being thankful.
Three Good Things
Being grateful is more than just saying, “Thank you.” It means appreciating something each day and finding joy in life.
Throughout the ages, spiritual people have encouraged each other to find something to be grateful for even in the worst situations. Recent research has shown that grateful people tend to be happier, healthier and more fulfilled. Being grateful helps us deal with stress and be at our best.
Here are three simple ways you can increase your joy and resilience in life:
1. Each day write down three good things about your day, anything you feel good about or thankful for.
Even on a bad day there are usually a few things we can be grateful for. Taking time to give thanks helps us focus on the good in life, rather than brooding about the bad.
2. Try to include why you believe each of these things is good.
Reflecting on what brings you joy helps reaffirm a sense of gratitude.
3. Repeat this activity for at least one week.
When the week is up, see if you’re so inclined to continue the practice into another week .. and maybe another.
Consider sharing at least one good thing with someone else. Spread the joy of gratitude this holiday season!
Note: Gratitude exercises are based on work by Emmons and McCullough, (2003) and Seligman, M.E., Steen, T.A., Park, N. and Peterson, C., (2005). www.actionforhappiness.org.
(Adapted from “The Happiness Challenge” workbook at actionforhappiness.org.)
Rev. Karl VanHarn is the Director of Pastoral Services and Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services, as well as an ordained minister in the Christian Reformed Church. He worked with Pine Rest CPE from 1995 to 2004, while serving as a Chaplain at Wedgwood Christian Services. He has been an ACPE Certified Educator since 1998.
He has a B.A. in Philosophy from Calvin College, a M.Div. from Calvin Theological Seminary and a D. Min. from Western Theological Seminary.