Wednesday, November 23, 2011

November 2011 Faithbooking Lesson

whole frame

Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude
Faithbooking Devotion #42 ~ Stones of Remembrance
Creating Rock-Solid Reminders of God’s Presence
©2011 Tina Vega

Our attitude affects every aspect of our lives. It not only sets the tone for our day, but greatly influences our relationships, the way we view ourselves, and the perspective we have on life. It is a powerful thing. A bad attitude, for example, will not only ruin your day but rob you of peace and contentment long afterwards as well.

God’s word has a lot to say about our attitude as you will see in the following verses:

Rejoice always. Pray continually. Give thanks in every situation because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (CEB)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24 (ESV)

Several recent studies have suggested that people who are more grateful have a higher sense of well-being. Grateful people are happier in general – they are less depressed, less stressed, and have a greater sense of satisfaction within their lives and social relationships. They also have a higher level of control of over their environments, personal growth, purpose in life, and self-acceptance. These studies have also shown that grateful people tend to cope more positively with difficulties they experience in life, being more likely to seek support from other people, grow from the experience, and spend more time planning how to deal with the problem. They are less likely to try to avoid the problem, deny there is a problem, blame others or themselves, or cope through substance use. Grateful people also sleep better – likely because they think less negative and more positive thoughts just before going to sleep.

♥ Create a list of benefits in your life and ask yourself, "To what extent do I take these for granted?" What steps could you take to begin cultivating an attitude of gratitude in your own life?
♥ Try reframing a situation by looking at it with a different, more positive attitude.
♥ Take a moment to reflect on the benefits of a grateful attitude listed above. What most appeals to you? Why?

You might want to begin by keeping a gratitude journal or taking on a daily gratitude photo challenge. Within time, you will develop an attitude of gratitude as habit instead of exercise.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more.
It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.
– Melody Beattie

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Ideas and tips:

1. Create a "thankful" framed project, similar to what is pictured above (Becky Higgins is the inspiration behind this project; you'll find her gratitude project HERE). Purchase a frame (I'd recommend nothing smaller than a 16x24) and art paper from a local craft store. While the felt alphabet stickers were from Making Memories, any 1-inch letters will do. Temporarily mount the art paper outside of the glass, add your title, and keep a marker handy for family members. Have everyone add something they are thankful for each day, using pictures and/or words. At the end of the month, simply slip the art paper back behind the glass and you have yourself a beautiful piece of art. (You can see how it looks on my wall HERE.)
2. Using this same idea, create a 2-page layout in your scrapbook album and encourage your family to document things they are thankful for on a daily basis for one month. An alternative would be to have everyone add something to the page on Thanksgiving Day as we did in the layout below:

turkey day layout

Especially meaningful in light of her recent cancer diagnosis, is my grandma's addition to the page:

grandma's signature

3. With the first of the year approaching, you might want to consider a Project 365: Gratitude where you take a daily photo of something you are thankful for. If that's a bit much for you, a gratitude album would be an ongoing project with a little less pressure.
4. Keep a Gratitude Journal. While doing "research" for this lesson, I discovered some amazing things about this practice. Several studies have clearly shown that participants who began keeping this type of journal experienced significant mood changes for the better. This is the best way to cultivate an "attitude of gratitude" as you get into the habit of recognizing and appreciating blessings in the everyday.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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