Let's test how cosmopolitan your group is. In how many languages can you say "Thank you"? No googling allowed. If you get more than six take a victory pic of your group and post it to the RR Facebook page with the hashtag #morethanthankyouandgracias
Did your parents make you write thank you cards growing up? How about thank you speeches at birthday parties? Basically, were you forced into gratitude as a kid? If so, are you glad? If not, do you wish you had been? Which thankfulness habits from childhood stuck around into adulthood?
Why is it important to thank God? List three solid reasons.
On Sunday Justin said, "Opening my mouth to say thanks opens my eyes to see blessings."
- What does that mean?
- What does it look like?
- Have you found it to be true?
What does thankfulness combat? How does it make us better people?
When the apostle Paul encourages Christians to "give thanks in all circumstances" he's talking to us, too. Is that hard for you? What kinds of situations/circumstances make thanksgiving hard for you? When are you least likely to say thanks?
Read Philippians 4:6-7
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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 your minds in Christ Jesus."
- What is Thanksgiving's relationship to anxiety?
- What is the result of Thanksgiving?
Here are a few thank you prayer prompts. Do one, two or all of them with your group:
- Bring a pack of thank you notes to small group. Have each member write a thank you to God for all the things God did in the last week (as many as they can fit in the card). Have members take the card home. Put it somewhere they'll remember it, and encourage them to open it on a really hard day, read it, and in reading it, pray it again.
- Have members reflect on one of the hardest seasons of their lives. Is there anything to be thankful for in those seasons? Did you see God working? Did you experience any small graces? Share (your sharing is a prayer).
- Thank God for small group. Go around and have members share one reason they're thankful for group.
- Make a really long list. As a group, list 50 (or more) things you're thankful to God for. Share it on Round Rock's Facebook page if you'd like.
Consider the following excerpt from an ABC online news article about thankfulness:
"If [thankfulness] were a drug, it would be the world's best-selling product with a health maintenance indication for every major organ system," said Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy, head of the division of biologic psychology at Duke University Medical Center.
While the act of being thankful is not a substitute for a proper medical diagnosis and treatment, Doraiswamy said it's certainly a strategy that can be used to enhance wellness.
Studies have shown measurable effects on multiple body and brain systems, said Doraiswamy. Those include mood neurotransmitters (serotonin, norepinephrine), reproductive hormones (testosterone), social bonding hormones (oxytocin), cognitive and pleasure related neurotransmitters (dopamine), inflammatory and immune systems (cytokines), stress hormones (cortisol), cardiac and EEG rhythms, blood pressure, and blood sugar.
"When my coaching clients ask me why gratitude exercises work, I let them know that humans have something called a negativity bias where 'bad stuff' in our life outweighs the good by a measure of about 3:1," Renee Jain, a certified coach of positive psychology, wrote in an email.
"This bias developed over millions of years help us survive threats in our environment," said Jain. "Fortunately, we no longer have to worry about a saber-toothed tiger attacking us on the way to work. Unfortunately, we still have this bias, which makes us hone in on negative events, emotions, and interactions in our lives."
"Gratitude helps us counteract the negativity bias by focusing our attention on the 'good stuff,'" Jain said. "A little focus can go a long way to improving one's psychological, social, and physical health."
- Have you noticed any correlation between your physical or mental health and the presence or absence of thanksgiving in your life? If so, tell your group about it.