On a historic holiday dedicated to being grateful, Thanksgiving can be difficult for some of us. While it is a day to remind us of the many ways our lives are blessed, it can also be a time when we are painfully aware of what our lives may lack. Thursday may be a day that should be brimming over with thanks — but when our lives aren’t quite where we want them, this seems a near-impossible task.
We all face seasons when life brings unpleasant surprises, yet this time of year between Thanksgiving and New Years’s throws everything sharp relief. For many, when the holidays provide a time that makes our losses an even more painful reality, focusing our minds on our blessings is pure discipline.
“I wrestled with all of this,” one young woman told LifeZette, “wondering how my suffering equates to a blessed life, and it’s taken me over a year to finally realize that my blessing is not contingent on my mourning. The blessing is related to the comfort. I’m blessed because God is with me.”
While some things are undoubtedly out of our control — other things are within our control.
Here are four ways to train your mind to live with an attitude of abundance and joy:
1.) Get rid of distractions.
When we consider the endless distractions from social media, promotional emails reminding us we’re missing out on a sale, and tweets that continue to pour salt in our political wounds — on any average given day, we may find we’re more open to be distracted than not.
“The great thing is to recognize God’s will in relation to all things.”
2.) Avoid a cynical heart.
When we are focused on what we lack in life, we can easily harbor negative feelings. Step away from the chronic cynicism that can creep into our thinking at this time of year and work hard to remain upbeat and positive. It is worth it.
3.) Monitor your expectations.
The difference between your expectations and your reality is the major component in causing stress. So the best way to reduce that stress and gain abundance is to either alter your expectations, your realities — or a little bit of both. Sometimes joy is a process of managing your expectations.
4.) Embrace the present moment.
Francois Fenelon wrote in “The Inner Life”: “There is a time for everything in our lives, but the maxim that governs every moment is this: that there should be none useless; that they should all enter into the order and sequence of our salvation; that they are all accompanied by duties which God has allotted with His own hand, and of which He will demand our account. For from our first instant of existence to the last, He has never assigned us a barren moment, nor one which we can consider as given up to our own discretion. The great thing is to recognize His will in relation to them all.”
Don’t let this season go unnoticed and miss the fresh, new blessings that God has for all of us — whether we’re parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, or young people just starting out in our careers — this Thanksgiving.