You have probably heard the phrase, “Attitude of Gratitude”. There is a lot of talk in recent times about the positive effects of being thankful. Research shows that being thankful affects us physically, emotionally, relationally and spiritually.
Physically – research has shown that gratitude can lower blood pressure, improve sleep, improve immune function 1 and is linked to increased levels of the good cholesterol (HDL) and lowering of bad cholesterol (LDL)2.
Emotionally – positive emotions, such as gratitude, increases the flow of happy chemicals in our brain, therefore helping us to feel happier3. Gratitude also helps to reduce our toxic emotions such as anger, resentment, frustration and regret4.
Relationally - We have probably all come across someone who is generally ungrateful. Chances are, they aren’t the happiest person you know. But not only does this ungratefulness affect them, but affects their relationships too. Think about your relationship with someone who is generally ungrateful – there is probably room for improvement5.
Spiritually – research has found that when compared to general gratitude, being grateful to God adds a unique variation for predicting mental health6.
So being grateful sounds like a great idea, doesn’t it? Here are some suggestions for ways to practise gratitude:
Sending thank you notes/letters
Saying thank you to others
Taking time to think about things you are thankful for
Reminiscing about times in the past that you are thankful for
By actually writing things down, you have a resource to look back on when you aren’t feeling too thankful and need to come up with some ideas.
Something to think about: the Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 that God wants us to be thankful in all circumstances. It’s easy to be thankful for all the positive things, but not such an easy task in the negative circumstances of our lives. Even if you are a grateful kind of person, I am sure we can all do with some practice at being thankful in those negative times. Can I encourage you to think briefly on any circumstances that you perceive as negative, and still try to be thankful to God. It will be a bit of a challenge for each of us, but the more you practise this, the easier it will become.