I’ve been thinking a little bit more about why being thankful is so important and that without it we will inevitably suffer and struggle, we will remain immature.
Saying ‘thank you’ to another person is a habit that needs teaching, we’ve been doing that with our two year old son, so that when he receives something he says ‘thank you’. It’s all a bit cutesy but the reasons go much deeper than civility and good manners. There are lessons and disciplines we need to bring into our relationship with God. Thankfulness to God essentially puts things in the right order of importance. Here are just three ways ‘thankfulness’ is a good spiritual discipline to have.
- Giving thanks reminds me I need others. Without thanks, without gratitude I can fool myself into thinking that I don’t need anyone else, and it is fooling myself. No one arrives in the world all on their own and no one survives on their own either. It’s not true for childhood and it’s not true for adulthood either.
- Giving thanks reminds me that life is a gift. Without thanks I tend to develop the conviction that life and the universe owes me. I deserve your kindness, I’m worthy of your gifts. Life should be easy for me, my path to success should be straightforward. After all this is me we’re talking about. This is, of course, bunkum. I’m not owed anything and an easy life is not a human right. The universe does not revolve around me and saying ‘thanks’ is a gentle, daily, regular reminder that this is a good thing.
- Giving thanks reminds me to be content. If I don’t give thanks then I won’t appreciate what I have and if I don’t appreciate what I have then I won’t be satisfied, and dissatisfaction is the enemy of contentment. Gratefulness gives me the chance to appreciate the kindness of another, the goodness of the gift, to stop and realise that life is better than I often give it credit.