As this is Thanksgiving week, a lot is being written about the giving of thanks and gratitude. I for one am glad to see that, and am a strong proponent of counting your blessings rather than focusing on the things in your life that are not going well.
It doesn’t give you permission to not deal with the things in your life you need to deal with. It is simply a call to have a perspective on life and life’s situations—good and bad—based on the belief that God exists and that your faith and your trust are in the Creator, Sustainer, and Savior Jesus Christ.
Paul writes this in 1 Thess. 5:16-18: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” It is only in Christ that you will have the desire and the ability to do these things, no matter the “circumstances.”
With that in mind, here are some thoughts from author Michael Hyatt. In his article, “The Gratitude Advantage: Four Ways Giving Thanks Improves Your Life,” which can be found on his web site, http://michaelhyatt.com/Hyatt says that “gratitude is a key component of helping people live happier and longer.” He says this is because “gratitude leads directly to feelings of satisfaction and wellbeing.” He then gives four ways gratitude helps us flourish with happier, healthier lives.
- Gratitude reduces our stress. Thankfulness redirects our attention from our difficulties to the benefits we enjoy. It’s like creating a stockpile of good thoughts for when times are tough. It also helps us reframe our losses and stay connected emotionally to friends and family.
- Gratitude inoculates us from negative emotions. When we focus on what we don’t have or how our decisions could have turned out better, we leave room for resentment, envy, and regret to build. Gratitude can keep these feelings at bay.
- Gratitude sustains our relationships. Let me just ask, Do you like hanging out with people that gripe and complain? Me neither. It’s gratitude that draws people together, builds trust, and strengthens ties. That’s true in the workplace, among friends, in families, and between husbands and wives.
- Gratitude improves our health. Grateful people visit their doctors less often and live longer than others. The research shows that thankfulness helps us sleep better, control our blood pressure, and generally reduce physical complaints.
Hyatt concludes his article with this call, to which I heartily add my “Amen!”
“Given these four ways gratitude can benefit us, I’d say we have some very good reasons to return thanks more than once a year. Cultivating gratitude makes each day worth living and might even give us more days. However we do it—make lists of our blessings, journal our gratitude, practice mindfulness, pray, find a trigger to pause and express thanks, write notes to colleagues and friends—let’s just make sure we do it.”