A Simple Project: Transform Gratitude into Action

Each night before bed our family does a roundtable prayer of thanks, with each of us saying something we are grateful for.  Every time we do this, a small wave of guilt passes over me. I know we are supposed to give thanks to God for all things, but there is something that feels privileged about thanking God for all that is good and then placing our contented heads on our pillows to rest before another blessed day.

I’ve spent a lot of time making sure my kids feel grateful. I guess what bothers me is that feeling grateful has resulted in…just feeling grateful. I would like our gratitude to result in action. As our pastor always says, we are “blessed to be a blessing.”

This November, make gratitude more about being a blessing than about passively acknowledging we are blessed.

Here’s a simple idea to make that happen! Gather your family to make a list of five things they are grateful for. Then brainstorm how to transform that gratitude into related action. You may or may not have time to accomplish it all in November, but just set a goal for however long your things will take. Here is an example from what we are doing: 

We are thankful for…

1.    Our home.

We can show our gratitude by…

Putting together hygiene kits for the homeless that Bryan serves each week. We’ve been planning to do this for a while, but time has slipped away. This month we are making it a priority!

2.    Our food.

We can show our gratitude by…

Collecting food for a local canned food drive at Thanksgiving.

3.    Our health.

We can show our gratitude by…

Making cards for someone we know who is having health problems.

4.    Our clothes.

We can show our gratitude by…

Cleaning out our closets to donate clothes to Goodwill.

5.    Our families.

We can show our gratitude by…

Visiting a local nursing home to spend time visiting with those who don’t have family close. (There are many lonely elderly people in nursing homes who would love to spend time with your family!)

It’s a simple project with an important teaching opportunity: gratitude is both feeling and action.

What are ways you can think of to turn gratitude to action?

8 thoughts on “A Simple Project: Transform Gratitude into Action”

  1. Natasha: I share your understanding that happiness begins with gratitude. But, we have a different slant on this notion insofar as it becomes part of our bed-time ritual. When our son was growing up, we would ask him to respond to,
    “What was the favorite part of your day.” This injected positivism into everything that happened between then and morning. Years later, I was stunned when I put this idea out to my adult lenten class. One of the students, a mature businessman living in a world of constant firefights , replied, “I never thought of that. I am always focused on what was the worst part of the day.” As you describe, such a little idea, attitude, can change lives, produce a world of positive energy

    1. I think helping kids to look at things positively by asking about their favorite part of the day is a great idea! I do think it’s very different, though, from teaching gratitude itself. From a biblical perspective, we are to be thankful for EVERYTHING – whether it’s positive or negative. So, if we only focus on helping our kids see what they like best in everything, they may miss the opportunity to learn to be grateful for all regardless of how they personally feel about their less favorite/exciting things. A comfortable bed will never be their favorite part of the day, but it is something they need to be grateful for. That said, helping them view things positively can add to gratitude, so it’s a great “supplement”!

  2. I loved your post! My children and I are working on memorizing the Book of James – a couple weeks ago we memorized 1:22, “But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” Each November we make it a point to focus on all the blessings God has given us. However, we have never combined our thankfulness of our blessings with “being blessings.” Thanks for encouraging and challenging me in this area. God bless and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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