Tag Archive for Thanksgiving

Increase Family Happiness in 5 Minutes a Day!

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and I want to share a family activity that can help you prepare for this special day. This activity will also bring increased happiness, greater life satisfaction and more positive emotions into your home. Everyone who participates will reap the benefits. Best of all, it is simple. It takes only about five minutes a day and a specific interaction twice a week. So, spending about an hour and a half each week in this activity can increase your family’s joy, happiness, and life satisfaction. Sound too good to be true? Only one way to find out—give it a try. Here’s what you do.
First, spend five minutes each night reflecting on positive experiences, people, or things for which you are grateful. Consider why you are grateful for each of these things. Think of different experiences, people, and things each day. Write them down in a “gratitude journal.” A simple list will suffice if you don’t like to write.
Second, at least two times a week share something from this list with another family member. You might do this as a family or one-on-one with a family member. Maybe you can do it as a family once a week and have everyone do it with one other family member for the second time each week. You could share during dinner or a special desert. You might decide to share first thing in the morning or as you prepare for bed. However or whenever you choose, share something from your gratitude list with the rest of your family two times a week. 
Third, when your family member shares a positive experience or some form of gratitude with you, respond with enthusiasm. See it from their perspective and share in their joy and gratitude. Reflect on how wonderful their experience is for them.
Simple right? Yet studies suggest that people who share their positive experiences with enthusiastically responding others experience greater happiness, deeper life satisfaction, and more positive emotions. Why not enjoy this kind of happiness with your family? And, what a great way to prepare for a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration. Try it out during the four weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. Then, on Thanksgiving talk about the experience. Enjoy sharing your experiences of gratitude with your family. Celebrate.

The Family Thanksgiving Extension Plan

I love Thanksgiving. I love the food, the taste of apple pie, the joy of family togetherness, and the intentional sharing of gratitude. I think Abraham Lincoln had a great idea when he established Thanksgiving as a national holiday. In fact, I wish we could celebrate Thanksgiving more often. Wait a minute…why should we stop after just one day of Thanksgiving anyway. Why not make it last all the way to Christmas? That sounds like a good idea. Well, maybe not all the food (I’d really gain holiday weight then); but we could enjoy family togetherness and intentional gratitude for the whole month…all the way up to Christmas. I am going to make Thanksgiving last longer this year. But, how can I do it? I have an idea. Here’s my plan:
·         First, I will get a piece of paper for each family member.
·         Second, each day I will write down 3 things that I can thank each individual for. I can write down thanks for something they do, something they say, some personality trait I admire, or even something I neglected to thank them for earlier. I plan to keep a distinct list of thanks for each individual family member.
·         Of the three thanks I write down, I will pick at least one to tell them about. So, each day, I will give each family member at least one word of thanks…face to face, not by text or email or Facebook.
·         On Christmas, I will put my list for each individual family member into a card, write a note telling them how thankful I am to have them in my life, and put it under the Christmas tree for them.

Yes, Thanksgiving will last longer than a mere day in my life this year. How about you? Will you join me in stretching Thanksgiving all the way to Christmas? Please do…join the Thanksgiving Extension Plan. Who knows, maybe we’ll make Thanksgiving a way of life!

Intentional Gratitude

Gratitude comes easy when life is good, love is easy, and family relationships running smooth. But, when life becomes rushed, love stressed, and family members disappointing, gratitude becomes more difficult. During such times, we must intentionally become attentive of our family and make a purposeful effort to show them gratitude. Why make the effort? Let me share three of the many reasons gratitude is worth the effort, even when times are difficult.


Gratitude protects us from temptation. One author suggests that a lack of gratitude laid the foundation for Adam and Eve to sin in the Garden of Eden. Could it be that a lack of gratitude for the abundant blessings available in the Garden allowed Satan to tempt Adam and Eve with the one tree they were told to avoid? Perhaps an expression of gratitude for the extravagant abundance available in the Garden would have staved off the temptation to eat the “forbidden” fruit.


I find this principle true in marriages as well. When a couple stops expressing gratitude for one another, they lay the foundation for a potential affair. The one who does not express appreciation for their spouse may find themselves tempted to partake of the “forbidden fruit” that deceptively appears “greener” than the fruit in their own house. And, the one that feels unappreciated may find themselves drawn to someone outside the marriage who expresses gratitude and appreciation for them. Gratitude protects us from temptation.


Gratitude reduces stress and gives us courage. A lack of gratitude leaves us dissatisfied with our past. It leads to grumbling and complaining. Perhaps Israel wandered the wilderness for forty years partly in response to a lack of gratitude. After all, they had experienced God’s protection during the plagues in Egypt, His deliverance from Egypt, and His miraculous power as they crossed the Red Sea. They survived on God’s provision of food and water as well. In spite of these opportunities to give thanks, they grumbled and complained. They focused on what they did not have rather than focusing on God’s miraculous provision. In their midst of grumbling, they sent a reconnaissance mission into the Promise Land. Most of the spies returned fearful of the Promise Land. Their lack of gratitude for God’s miraculous provision led to self-induced fear, mistrust, and a future with no vision. As a result, they spent 40 years wandering the wilderness.


It comes as no surprise that when a person grumbles, they feel more stress. Grumbling focuses on dissatisfaction and worry. Complainers feed off others who complain. Grumbling escalates and the focus on the worst case scenario grows stronger, fear increases, courage falls away. Gratitude, on the other hand, sets our focus on those things that have gone well and those blessings we have received. It lends itself to a peaceful acceptance of what we have today. It grants us courage, based on the gracious joys of yesterday, to accomplish our vision of tomorrow. As an unknown author stated, “gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”


Gratitude keeps love alive and growing. Without gratitude, love fades. When we feel stressed, irritated, or rushed, we often project those feelings onto those around us. These are the times when we do not feel like expressing gratitude. Instead, we take people and things for granted. Our interactions become more harsh, hurried, or even rude. I have met many children, teens, and young adults who misbehave in an effort to elicit some expression of emotion from others. If they can not elicit the joy of gratitude and appreciation, they will accept the connection of irritated anger and frustration. As this continues, love fades and attention-seeking misbehavior grows. Lest you think this only relates to children, consider what happens in your marriage if you feel that your spouse does not appreciate you. Love fades and attention seeking behavior grows.


Gratitude, on the other hand, expresses that you value the other person enough to attend to and appreciate them. In fact, gratitude becomes a gift of appreciation. It sparks the embers of affection and fans the flame of love. It pleases the heart and endears us to one another. Gratitude creates the foundation of joy today that becomes a vision tomorrow. Gratitude keeps love alive and growing.


So, how can we remain grateful when we are frustrated, stressed, disappointed, or feeling rushed? Here are a few ways to intentionally make gratitude a part of your family life:

  1. Volunteer as a family to help those less fortunate.
  2. Take time to recall and list as many qualities as you can think of that you have appreciated about each family member in the past.
  3. Make a daily list of three things you appreciate about each family member.
  4. Make a weekly list of 3-5 things each family member has done to help strengthen family relationships.
  5. Make a point of sharing one item from your list with each family member each day.


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