Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. –1 Thessalonians 5:18

Thanksgiving Day is not the only time of year to express your gratitude. Gratitude is the posture we should reach for when it comes naturally and especially when it doesn’t. Here’s 3 reasons why:

We Can Celebrate Others More Fully

Competition and comparison are relationship killers. Not only do these two evils cause you to become resentful of others, they also cause you to resent yourself and the things you have. Forbes notes that “gratefulness reduces social comparisons, which allows you to celebrate the accomplishments and good fortune of others.

I’ve noticed when I am grateful for exactly what God has given me, it is so much easier to feel genuine joy for others. I don’t always get it right the first time, but coming back to gratitude helps me “stir up others towards love and good works” (Heb.10:24). Also, finding any reason to celebrate others usually includes cake. So let’s rejoice about that.

We Can Break Through Dark Places

Gratitude increases our resilience during tough times. Whenever I am stuck in a dark place, I immediately turn to my journal and begin listing out things I am grateful for. This simple act is a catalyst, turning my sadness into hopefulness. Time reports that people who list out what they are grateful for everyday compared to those who don’t have more optimism.

Crafting a tangible list, even if that includes Boy Meets World and mac-n-cheese, I can choose thankfulness which turns my attention to “things above, not on earthly things…for my life is hidden in Christ” because I recognize these small pleasures come from the Father (Col. 3:2). Our optimism comes from a spiritual practice of thanking God for the unfading, imperishable glory that He has for us.

We Can Focus on God, Not on Self

Most importantly, being grateful takes the attention off of us and places it on God. When you practice gratitude daily, you begin to dig beneath the surface for the source of your gratitude. David, in the Psalms, is constantly shining the light on God as his source for gratefulness.

His prayer recipe always includes gratitude.

“I must perform my vows to you, O God; I will render thank offerings to you.

For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling,

that I may walk before God in the light of life” (Ps. 56:12-13).

Gratitude focuses our good gifts on the giver, God Himself. The complaining and the dissatisfaction about our circumstances fall away as we echo truths of God’s goodness that he gives us in scripture. We focus less on what we don’t have and more on what God has for us.

The will of God for you is to give thanks in all circumstances. Why? Because God loves you and wants you to delight in the gifts He has already blessed you with. Take a moment to see the ways God created gratitude to increase your joy in Him.