Six ways to cultivate thankfulness and joy

Thankfulness and joy can be cultivated.

As we make gratitude a habit by practicing it over and over, it becomes part of us. Natural. As natural as complaining. And eventually thankfulness will drive out that demon of grumbling and we’ll experience more and more consistent joy. Here are 6 ways to cultivate thankfulness:

Thank God first thing when you wake up.

I once heard someone say as soon as he wakes he thanks God for the gift of sleep and for his protection during the night. I’ve tried to make this a habit too, thanking God for sleep, for protecting our family, for his mercies new every morning, for his steadfast love and faithfulness.

Keep a thankfulness journal.

After my morning Bible reading I take a few minutes to write one page in a moleskine journal of things I’m thankful for. If I can’t think of anything I start with thanks for the weather or a blessing from the day before. Some write things they’re thankful for on Post-it notes and keep them on a bulletin board. Writing helps me focus plus I can go back and recall blessings and thank God for them later.

Thank God for spiritual blessings.

Most of the time we tend to thank God for our temporal blessings, which is great, but God has heaped multitudes of spiritual blessings on us. He’s adopted us as children, given us eternal life, made us one with Christ, delivered us from the dominion of sin, made us joint-heirs with Christ, filled us with his Holy Spirit, given us eternal hope, blessed us with every blessing in the heavenly places, and removed our condemnation forever, just to name a few.

Thank God for material blessings.

For your spouse or parents or friends. For your health, eyesight, hearing, touch and taste. For a sound mind. For your house or apartment, heat, electricity and indoor plumbing. For your job. For children and grandchildren if you have them. Thank God for your church. Thank him for technology and all the medical knowledge and availability of medicine he’s given us in this country. You get the idea.

Thank God for any hard things you’re going through.

We don’t thank God for the evil in a trial, but we can thank him that he’s causing it work for our good, make us like Christ, humble us, teach us to trust him. Thank him for minor annoyances, like the traffic you’re stuck in, the paperwork you have to do, those dishes you need to wash.

Add thanksgiving to your requests and petitions (Philippians 4:6).

Thank God that he hears your prayers, that he’s faithful and a rewarder of those who seek him. Thank him for all the prayers he’s answered in the past.

If you cultivate thankfulness in your life, you’ll find joy growing with it. Thankful people are joyful. A thankful heart makes a glad face. I’m not talking Pollyanna oh-everything’s-great gladness, but deep abiding joy in Christ.

I’m a pastor at Saving Grace Church in Indiana, PA. I’m married to Kristi, have 5 kids, and a growing number of grandkids. I enjoy songwriting, oil painting and coffee, not necessarily in that order.