- Thankful people don’t expect that life is going to give them everything they deserve.
When life gives you lemons…Truly thankful people realize that life is going to happen and we have a choice to learn in the midst of it, or complain about. It’s very hard to be a thankful person if you constantly feel like you deserve more in life.
11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
- They know the difference between their joy and their happiness.
They do not think, “If this happens, then I will be happy.” They understand that joy is a feeling created from a spiritual encounter with God and happiness is a feeling dictated by earthly experiences. A thankful person doesn’t try to control things that they know are beyond their control, but instead they focus on the joy they have while going through those circumstances. They also realize that thankfulness cannot always be driven by happiness because it is a temporary feeling.
- People who are thankful have realized that you cannot have the rainbow without the rain.
Furthermore, they know that you don’t have honey without the bee, and you can’t have the rose without the thorns. They see rainy days as a normal part of life rather than a burden, and they learn from the rain rather than just wait for it to go away. They admire the beauty of the rose even though it has its thorny side, and savor the sweet taste of honey even though the bee can sting. Realizing you cannot have one without the other, they learn to be thankful for both.
- Thankful people have hope.
No matter what happens, hope is not lost. They realize the future is uncertain, and while they plan for it, they do not try to micromanage outcomes that are beyond their sphere of influence. They take comfort in the fact that when the sun goes down, it will rise the next day. They have faith that there is more to life and they find something to hope in.
- They don’t allow bitterness or grudges to form in their life.
They forgive others for not acting or being like they had hoped. It is easy to develop preconceived ideas about how people should act, but thankful people realize they are only responsible for their own actions. They choose not to get bitter or angry; or hold a grudge against them. Instead, they are thankful that God made so many different people with so many different ways of going about things.
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous-how well I know it.
- People who are thankful know that being thankful takes work.
Thankfulness does not always come naturally, especially in the most challenging times. In such times, thankful people work on keeping a good perspective. They seek support from others, get help for their sadness or anxiety, and strive to remain thankful in the tough moments.
- Thankful people have healthy thinking habits.
They choose to pursue victory in every situation rather than just being the victim of those situations. All-or-nothing irrational thinking such as “It’s awful” or “I can’t stand it” is reserved for the most life threatening circumstances, rather than everyday petty annoyances and slights. Rather than allowing their emotions and feelings to drive them, they set boundaries around their negative thinking and pursue optimism.
- Thankful people are flexible in their thinking.
People who think flexibly are at an advantage in life, as flexibility is the key to growth and wisdom. They realize they can choose their perceptions and have a right to change their minds. With this mentality, the doors that close are mere opportunities for others to now become open.
- Thankful people are life-long learners.
Each setback or unforeseen life event offers us lessons, and thankful people focus more on the lessons they can get out of each situation rather than the disappointments. After all, life is a great teacher and teaches us things that no one ever could. Even mistakes and failures are seen as learning opportunities.
They constantly ask themselves, “Am I just getting disappointment or am I gaining new insight?
- Thankful people choose not to live in regret.
A person who lives with regret sees himself or herself as a permanent loser. Positive self-esteem sets the foundation for thankfulness. They don’t spend time thinking about all the things they wish they had done because they are too busy thinking about the things they are going to do. They do not allow worry to become their main focus in life because they are afraid it might cloud their vision of the blessings they have.
30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.