The Thankful Way to (Begin or) End Each Day

What’s on your back burner? James Clear talks about the “four burners” we have going in our life: health, work, family, and friends. The theory goes that in order to be successful you have to cut off one of your burners. In order to be really successful you have to cut off two of them. Clear explains that there are ways to work around keeping all four burners burning, but every choice has a cost. One way to find your way through all of this is to be thankful.


It can be pretty overwhelming to stay healthy, excel at work, devote time to your family, and cultivate solid friendships. When I reflect on those four things I realize that it is next to impossible to have all four going and glowing well. If I devote too much time to work, my family suffers. If I don’t leave any time for exercise my health suffers. If work, family, and health crowds into all my time I may find myself without friends.

But what if I dedicate just a minute amount of time to be consciously thankful each day for something in each category? It won’t buy me any time or help me with any of the trade-offs, but it will give me a better attitude to work my way through the challenges each day of keeping all four burners burning.

In order to help me do that, I have a small notebook. I use it every night before I go to bed to write down four specific things for which I’m thankful. The more specific I can be I’ve found, the better it is to keep me grounded and moving forward with a positive attitude.

For example, here’s what I’m thankful for today:

  • Health: I’m thankful I have recovered from the cold I had last week
  • Work: I’m thankful that the member of our church I visited in the hospital today is recovering well from cancer surgery
  • Family: I’m thankful for my wife’s creativity and hard work in the new little business she started this week
  • Friends: I’m thankful for the friend who texted me these encouraging words: “You are doing amazing work in very difficult times for the ‘Church’ in our culture”

I have found that the act of simply writing these things down is enough to calm me down, get me ready for a good night’s sleep, and help me wake up with a positive attitude. I’ve also found this to be helpful at the beginning of a day to get things off on a thankful and positive note. Either way, it’s an incredibly helpful practice.

What are the four things you are thankful for today?

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2 thoughts on “The Thankful Way to (Begin or) End Each Day

  1. I used to be able to handle “four burners”. Not anymore. I am feeling “burned” out. The hardest thing to do when you are juggling these balls in the air is to figure out how to change it.