Typically, November is the month we think about gratitude the most each year. But this year, 2020, has not been the most typical year. The thing about gratitude though, is that even when we cannot see anything to be grateful for, we can decide to look for it. Then it will show itself, and usually in abundance. We have the opportunity to take literally anything that looks hopeless and use gratitude to flip our attitude about it.
When our attitude changes, everything around us changes as well. In addition, our own mood, especially as mothers, affects everything in our household. Everyone has heard the saying that “if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy” and it is so true that we, as mothers, set the tone for the home. Keeping our positivity level high is of utmost importance.
Honestly, I do not have time to do all the self-care needed each day to keep that positive energy cup filled. But what I do have is a very valuable tool that helps keep my attitude positive by focusing on gratitude; it’s also a great tool if you’re not trying to maintain a positive attitude, but to find one (I know I lose mine on occasion). Gratitude can help turn us from a quick bad attitude or from a deeper depressive one.
A very simple tool I know is a Gratitude Journal. For this, you write down five things that you’re grateful for. This accomplishes a few things. First, it slows us down and focuses our thoughts. Second, it brings us into the present, not thinking about the past or worrying about the future. Last, it really makes us feel grateful, which, in turn, makes us actually become grateful.
Gratitude gives us the most bang for our buck, so to speak. It fills us up so that we can do:
1. What we need to do, such as in Isaiah 66:13, which says “As one whom his mother comforts, So I will comfort you…;”
2. What we want to do like the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31:16, “she considers a field and buys it; from her profits she plants a vineyard,” and
3. What we are called by God to do like in Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way that he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
In our society today we are dominated by social media and that can cause all types of problems if we let it consume us. The most common problem is comparison. What is the opposite of comparison? Gratitude! If we are focused on what we are grateful for, then we aren’t worried about what everyone else is doing. And it just frees us from this lie that what we are doing is not good enough. Because if you are doing what you are called to be doing, it is enough. Period.
One of my favorite authors and motivational speakers was Zig Ziglar and he said that, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing, that’s why we recommend it daily.” This is especially true at this time of year, when we have a national holiday dedicated to giving thanks. When President Lincoln made Thanksgiving a holiday in 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, he called it “a Day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.” In all his wisdom, he knew that a time when our country was the most divided was when we needed to celebrate giving thanks to God. An attitude of gratitude is always needed and what we are always called to have. Even when things seem darkest, we should give thanks because it says in 2 Corinthians 4:15, “All this is for your benefit, so that grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow the glory of God.” It all starts with us, as individuals and as mothers. We wield so much power and influence, we sometimes don’t even realize it. If we are grateful, our children see it and they are grateful…it causes a ripple effect and we just have to start one day with five little things in a Gratitude Journal, that’s it; so simple! So I would encourage you to start today, get a cute notebook or legal pad or an old electric bill envelope you find under your car seat (ask me how I know). My point is just to start and see the impact it has. I hope and pray everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving last week and you enjoy this season with the ones that mean the most to you.