Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (CSB)
As many of us are finishing up our Thanksgiving leftovers and roaring toward Christmas, ask yourself: is “Thanksgiving” just a Thursday in November…or should it be our attitude all year? In our relentless culture that always seems to shout at us “Be more! Do more! Have more!,” gratitude whispers “be thankful for what you have and count your blessings.”
However, is “being thankful” just an empty, sappy platitude, or can it pay real dividends?
As quoted in The Epoch Times, Gregory Jantz Ph.D. writes, “As a mental health professional for 35 years, I’ve counseled hundreds of people struggling with anxiety, depression, addictions, relationship problems, and other serious challenges. Almost always, the practice of gratitude is emphasized in treatment as a step toward wellness and health.
“I’ve come to believe that gratitude is the antidote for every toxic thing that comes into our lives. Simply put, gratitude fosters optimism, which strengthens hope. Whether your life includes serious difficulties or is relatively stable, the practice of giving thanks is sure to fortify and enrich your life.”
Researchers Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough have studied the benefits of gratitude and claim, “When people are grateful, they experience more ‘calm energy’ — they feel more alert, alive, interested, enthusiastic.”
As a part of their research, they asked study participants to keep a “gratitude journal” where they were to record at least three three things that day they were thankful for. The results were astounding. People who followed that practice consistently scored 25% higher on happiness surveys, slept a half-hour longer each night, and exercised 33% more weekly than those who did not have that habit.
One young man heard a sermon where the speaker encouraged the congregation to keep such a “gratitude journal.” Moved by what they had heard, he and his wife began that routine and discussed their daily blessings each evening, and were soon delighted to see their preschool-aged children volunteering things they were thankful for each day.
Try writing down three (or more) things each day that you are grateful for, and watch your mindset and life start to change!