I feel like it has to be first because a life without thanks is an empty life.
Thanksgiving does not come naturally to me. I long to be thankful, but complaining and comparing is much easier. I never even realized how much my negativity drained me until, after finding Ann Voskamp's blog, I started counting gifts on Mondays. Then I read her book, and it changed my life.
My natural response is still inclined to the woe is me. Even today I was cleaning up mac and cheese noodles, Cheerios, and peas from my kitchen floor thinking how humiliating it is that I with my master's degree am cleaning up after toddlers and babies. Halfway through my internal complaints, the thought hit me that the One I want most to be like came to serve, came in the most humble way, even though He was entitled to so much more - He was entitled to everything. A few months ago, I would have continued in my pity-party, and my afternoon would have been robbed of contentment. But instead I remembered to fill my heart, my mind, my mouth with thanks, and the rest of my day was much fuller than I believe it otherwise would have been.
“We only enter into the full life if our faith gives thanks. Thanksgiving is the manifestation of our YES! to His grace. Thanksgiving is inherent to a true salvation experience; thanksgiving is necessary to live the well, whole, fullest life.” ~ Ann Voskamp
It is not always easy, but it is necessary. To get the most out of life, to enjoy it to the fullest, every day, every moment, I must be noticing the gifts and thanking the Giver. A life will never be full unless it is first thankful.