One Practice That Shapes You Into A Thankful Person

"Giving thanks always and for everything..."

The practice of giving thanks for all things continues to mystify me. I am still learning and therefore inconsistent – like yesterday when I honked at a guy who stopped his Lexus in front of me in the flow of traffic. I didn’t even think to say, “Thank you.” Yet, I’d like to invite you to journey me in this effort. You are invited to radically give thanks for ALL things. 

In obedience to Ephesians 5.20 — giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ — and taking this verse literally, develop a thankful heart.

Here’s the practice: Say “Thank you” for everything you see and experience.

QUALIFIERS

  1. Resist the temptation to analyze the thing or experience – “This is worth being thankful for; this is not.” Don’t classify or evaluate. Just say “Thank you.”
  2. Resist the temptation to add an outcome to the thing or experience – Thank you for ________ because ___________. Just say “Thank you.” For example: You might want to say, “Thank you for the rain because it makes the veggies grow.” No! Just say “Thank you for the rain.” This removes your attempt to be in charge and control outcomes.

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

As I drove to a appointment a while ago, I did this. I thanked God for everything I saw whether I liked it or not. “Thank you for this truck. Thank you for these keys. Thank you for this driveway and home. Thank you for the sunshine and clouds. Thank you for my neighbors. Thank you for the squirrel (tough one). Thank you for the stop sign. Thank you for this winding road. Thank you for the 55 speed limit (tough). Thank you for the hunger I feel. Thank you for the person I’m meeting. Thank you for the long line (tough). Thank you for the unhappy clerk (tough). Thank you for the cigarette in his hand (really tough). Thank you for the barking dogs (tough). Thank you for the smell of food. Thank you for this drink. Thank you for a successful meeting. Thank you for these cars that keep coming at me. Thank you for that school, post office, church, signal light, gas station, slow driver, two lane road, hill, silence, and life. Thank you for your goodness and beauty. Thank you for a safe trip.”

This occurred in approximately 2 hours. When I got home from the appointment, I had a deep sense of peace, joy, and contentment way beyond the usual. Saying thank you for ALL things did something in me that shaped my heart and perspective.

Saying “Thank you” will transform you into being a thankful person. 

WHEN IT’S HARD TO SAY THANK YOU

The hardest things for which to say “thank you” are those that aggravate and upset you. Thank you for President-elect Trump. Thank you for President Obama. Thank you for my headache. Thank you for this (pitiful) paycheck. Thank you for broken air conditioning. Thank you for this slow traffic. Thank you for my unruly child/grandchild. Thank you for this boring sermon. Thank you for this (stupid) conversation. Thank you for this poorly prepared food. Thank you for my spouse’s insensitivity. Thank you for this lazy employee. Thank you for people who love guns/hate guns. Thank you for that person who ignores me. Thank you for this flat tire. Thank you that my team lost. Thank you for my struggles – childhood and current.

WHY?

When you practice saying “Thank you” for ALL things, you:

  • train yourself to accept difficult situations that arise in your life with calm, compassion, and grace.
  • learn to place relationships above issues.
  • begin to understand that what you think is “bad” for you is for your good.
  • find love and joy replacing anger, impatience, frustration, and judgmentalism.
  • sort out the things you have from the things you want.

Will you accept this invitation and begin to say “Thank you” for ALL things? Share your experiences below. 

Dr. K 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

22 thoughts on “One Practice That Shapes You Into A Thankful Person

    • Hi Tommy! Great to hear from you! Thanks for reading the post. Thanks for engaging. I hope you’re well. I thank God for you. Thanks be to God for all things! Dr. K

  1. I understand the concept and I agree with thanking God for all things in our lives, even the bad I.e. Cancer, deaths, loss of employment-if I believe that God uses the good and bad to His best for my life but I also know thatI live in a world that is fallen and now includes sin and I don’t believe that I can say thank you to things such as alcohol and cigarettes-things that have no good qualities at all. Just my opinion.

    • Hi Lori. Yes. This is a difficult “assignment” we’ve been given. Does “all things” mean all things? Do we really know what is “sin” and what is not? Eating at a restaurant on Sundays used to be called a sin by some. Some believe that watching a movie is sin. Something may not be good for us, but where do I place that in my categories of “right” and “wrong?” I’m not trying to talk you out of your convictions. But, there will always be things for which we will not want to say “Thank you.” Those are the very things for which we should say “Thank you” since that action begins to transform our hearts into greater love and mercy. I thank God for you! Thanks be to God for all things! Keith P.S. I’m inviting you to move “thanksgiving” from a concept/idea/belief into reality by actually saying “Thank you” for all things.

  2. Thank you, dear one, for this “Uncommon Journey” blog, Today I am thankful for a nagging hip problem. Mother

    • Hi Mom! Being thankful for physical ailments must be one of the most challenging areas of thankfulness God gives us. May His comfort be yours as you thank him for all things. I thank God for you. Love, Keith

  3. I accept your invitation, Keith.
    Today I say, Thank you for inspiration. Thank you for the internet. Thank you for the Uncommon Journey. Thank you for this computer. Thank you for my task chair. Thank you for the clouds.
    The hardest part of stating my gratitude is avoiding the explanations, the “attempt to control”. I hadn’t thought of the details and explanations as my need to control.
    Do our explanations undermine the true value of the blessing or the blessing in disguise?

    • Hi Karen. To your question – you nailed it. Our explanations devalue whatever goodness God may have in mind in the thing for which we’re thankful. We have little idea of their value. By “e-valu-ating” the thing or experience, we place our limited understanding above God’s unlimited perspective of love, goodness, kindness, and grace. Yes, there are times this evaluation is necessary. But leaving the evaluation in God’s hands does a transformational shaping of our own hearts especially in the areas of love and trust. I thank God for you! Thanks be to God for all things! Keith

  4. I need to do this far more. Even thanking God for the difficulties in my life. Even the “irregular people” as Joyce Landorf named them. Thank you Lord for my friend Tom!

    • Hey Bruce. I laughed out loud! You made my day. Another reason to love your friend. Thanks be to God for all things! Keith

    • Thanks June. What a challenge it is to give thanks for ALL things. Some things are no-brainers. Others give us pause. Thanks be to God for all things! Keith

  5. Well my morning started by driving to a very top of a hill to meet a client who was not home….and made no effort to communicate. As I sat in her front cut yard…I read you article. I shared with the clients mother God must have something else in mind for me today with a smile. I left my catalog and a nice note and went on my way.
    Thank you
    Debbie

    • Thank you, Debbie, for sharing your experience. Isn’t living a thankful life – even being thankful for things out of our control – a wonderful way to live? Learning to live this way is definitely a journey. We come to it slowly, one step at a time. Thanks for being on the journey with us. Thanks be to God for all things. Dr. K

  6. You know, Keith, sometimes I really don’t like you!!!! Suggesting that we give thanks in all things! My initial fleshly response is, “I don’t want to do that! Not everything is worthy of thanks!” Yet, deep in my heart, there is another response saying, “Yeah, but he’s right. That’s a good practice. Do it. Trust that this does lead to blessing.” So…I will try this, even though there is a significant part of me that doesn’t want to. I’m sure you are correct in what you say. My flesh, though, wants to rebel. So while I don’t like you at times like this, I love you for the fact that you say things like this. It’s so good and so necessary. Thanks for helping me to live into this life with God in ways that I normally wouldn’t on my own.

    • Hi Brian. I love you, too!! It’s surprising how often we take plain statements of scripture and make theory of them. We’re exhorted to give thanks at all times for all things. Yet, we rarely make that a reality. By picking and choosing what we’ll be thankful for, we mess up the transformational nature of thankfulness. I’m just challenging us to make it a reality. Just imagine what kind of person you’d have to be to be thankful for all things. Wow!! Just remember, struggle with this for some time before recommending it to others. You’re a good friend. Thanks for joining me on the journey. Keith

  7. It’s more than a practice, it is a reality and a way of life. It is one of the single most life-changing relationships that God has formed in my life; and has changed the way I walk through each day. Thank you Lord! Thank you Keith!

    • Hi John. You said it! The practice leads to us becoming a different person so that it becomes “second-nature.” In other words, the practice of saying “Thank you” shapes you into a thankful person so that you become thankful for all things.” Thanks for the wonderful testimony of its effectiveness. Blessings, brother. Keith

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