How Thanksgiving Shapes Happiness

by Leigh



                               

unsplash_522b9cc0386f1_1

Turns out the shape of happiness is a U.

According to an article in this month’s Atlantic, our happiness levels have a U shape over the course of our lives: higher in our twenties, lower during midlife, and rising again in our late 50’s and early 60’s. The What struck me as I read the article was story after story of people struggling with happiness in midlife because life hadn’t turned out like they thought it would. They hadn’t advanced in their careers or written the great American novel. They had divorced, their children were struggling, or they were caring for aging parents. Somehow at midlife they looked around and found themselves wondering is this all there is?

And discontentment crept in.

I came across this sentiment in a last minute search for a children’s sermon this week: Look at the donut and not the hole. If someone gives you a donut, you enjoy the donut—you don’t focus on the hole. Yet, when we look at our lives sometimes we look at the hole instead of the donut. I see the lumpy couch in my den instead of the three children curled up on it. I see the pile of dishes in the sink and not the laughter of the family gathered around the table. I see the extra pounds on the scale instead of the blessings of health and security. There’s a dozen donuts in front of me, and all I see are the holes. I focus on what’s missing, and discontent seeps in.

not the holeThanksgiving has the power to shape our happiness by redirecting our focus to the gifts and the Giver. Cultivating an attitude of thanksgiving trains us in attentiveness. It forces us to notice the beauty in the small things we might otherwise miss like the crunch of red-gold leaves beneath our feet or a child’s syrup-sticky morning kiss. Thanksgiving shifts our thinking from mourning what we’re missing to celebrating what we’ve already been given.

Thanksgiving helps us see the donut, not the hole.

 

Thanksgiving also reminds us that we are not just grateful for something, we are grateful to someone. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights” (James 1:17). The good things in our lives are not accidents; they are gracious gifts from our heavenly Father whose love for us does not change like the shifting shadows. It is good for us to pause, to be thankful, and to celebrate our God who lavishly showers his blessings on us.

In this season of Thanksgiving, don’t miss the donut by looking at the hole. So the cranberry sauce spilled on the tablecloth, the piecrust burned, and the turkey’s just on the edge of too dry. Focus on what you have. Be attentive to unexpected blessings.

And let thanksgiving shape your happiness.

How are you shaping your happiness this Thanksgiving?

Email Author    |    Website About Leigh

Bio: Leigh Powers is a pastor’s wife and mother of three from small-town West Texas. She has pursued a life-long love affair with the word of God and is passionate about seeing women’s lives transformed by encountering God through his word. She earned her M.Div.Bl from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and has written over fifty Bible study lessons for publishers such as Smyth&Helwys and BaptistWay Press. She blogs about faith, life, and kingdom living at her blog, My Life. His Story. You can find her on Twitter or Facebook.

View all articles by


                               

This post may contain affiliate links. When you use them, you support this site. Thank you!
See our Disclosure Policy for details.

Quietude as Worship

photo credit: MightyBoyBrian via photopin cc

photo credit: MightyBoyBrian via photopin cc

“O LORD, my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.” ~ Psalm 131:1

 Here we are, approaching fast the end of another year. The days that spread out from September through December are like scattered stones thrown out numerous, until the crisp air beckons scarves for our necks, and the falling leaves remind us that another year is almost past. The pace of our routines and return to order, after Summer,  make way for new beginnings and sometimes endings.

Read the full article →
 


                                       

Richly Blessed

Fall Street

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
What is man that You are mindful of him,and the son of man that You visit him?
For You have made him a little lower than the angels,
And You have crowned him with glory and honor.

~ Psalm 8:3-5

I remember a day the sky was so blue it took my breath away, the sunrise so pink I could only stand in awe. The stars that night twinkled brighter than ever a night before, or so it seemed as I gazed enthralled by God’s awesome creation.

Read the full article →
 


                                       

A surprising benefit of thankfulness

November is a month of thankfulness.

Fall on the parkwayAll over social media, we see people expressing gratitude for things in their lives. In early November the posts read along the lines of,

“I’m thankful for a warm house, clean clothes, and food on the table.”

As the month goes on, I’ve noticed an interesting trend: the focus narrows. A 30-day gratefulness challenge causes participants to look beyond the obvious and find the more obscure gifts in life.

A random kindness.
A good night’s sleep.
A warm cup of tea.

An attitude of gratitude benefits us in many ways. First and foremost, a grateful mindset honors the Lord.

Read the full article →
 


                                       

I am in recovery…

I am in recovery, and my children helped restore my joy. I love that they do that for me. That may be one of my blessings as a Mid-Life Mama (you raise them, and if you are blessed, they raise you back). Welcome to my spiritual recovery. I mean no disrespect; I have immense regard for people who have fought demons and overcome addictions, but that is not this story. I am in recovery from the dangerous notion that I was ever in control of my life. I am in recovery.

I am walking out of the wilderness that was my life for the last several years.

Read the full article →
 


                                       

On Gratitude : Sifting Through the Mess, Getting the Message

message2

Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
― Marcel Proust

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. – John F. Kennedy 

Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart. – Philippians 1 : 3-4 The Message

Wisdom waits. In my twenties, expressions of gratitude were measured by feelings of satisfaction with my life and goals.

Read the full article →
 


                                       

Seasons

Photo: SusieKlein

It is Sunday morning and I am looking out my big windows at the way the sun is hitting the trees behind my house. From here you’d never know that there is a brisk snap in the air as we slide from autumn and into winter. Even as the leaves are slowly shifting from green to yellow, I am still grieving the end of summer and my daily swims out there beneath the trees.

I am becoming an expert on those particular leaves because today is my 5th day of riding this couch with a flu bug. (“Riding” is really not the right word though.

Read the full article →
 


                                       

Carried Along By Waves of Grace

6197059838_e9e8a2abd7

Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.
(Psalm 42:7)

Grace – the unmerited favor of God, the conditions or fact of being favored by someone.

I long to walk throughout my day knowing that the grace of God is with me, holding my head high as I realize his unmerited favor upon my life. What does it look like to walk in His grace? I picture a ballerina, gliding ever so gracefully as she dances, never missing a step, yet all the while leaning into her partner for strength and support.

Read the full article →