01 Nov Why Practicing Gratitude Matters
Thanksgiving is, by far, my favorite holiday of the year. Not only do I love the feast itself [and everything about it, even cooking it], but I love the season of thankfulness and the practice of joining together to give thanks to the LORD for all He has done with those we love most. It’s, to me, one of the most beautiful practices that we have as a society and there’s so much good that can come out of it.
In fact, I chose this exact topic for my first-ever episode of Bedtime Babble last year! I’m no longer posting Bedtime Babble on Wednesday evenings, but I am leading a Bible study on Wednesday nights both in-person and online. If you want to join in, click here!
Practicing gratitude is a simple way to make your life better.
Showing gratitude actually has scientifically-proven benefits—physical, mental, and emotional. By the simple act of practicing gratitude daily, you can actually improve your overall wellbeing.
Don’t believe me? Check out this quote from a study in The Harvard Mental Health Letter
“Gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”
The physical benefits of practicing gratitude
In one study, Psychologists asked people to write a few sentences each week, focusing on particular topics. One group was told to write about things that had occurred during the week that they were grateful for. The other group wrote about things that frustrated them during the week.
Get this… After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. [Also a cool side note is that they stepped out and exercised more and had fewer doctors visits than those who focused on the negative aspects of their lives. So, there’s science behind how your well-being is better off with gratitude.
The relational benefits of practicing gratitude
It’s basic social skills – when we thank demonstrate gratitude, whether for a gift or an act or for just being them, we make them feel like a million bucks and we fill our own buckets too. Jesus addresses this topic too. He says,
Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” – Luke 6:38
If, in our relationships, we get what we give, by genuinely thanking others for their love and friendship, we will receive the same. Thankfulness is a fast way to grow our relationships and take them deeper.
The spiritual benefits of practicing gratitude
Practicing gratitude requires a choice to be made. That choice is to willingly focus on the good in your life, despite any negative currently fogging your windshield. The Bible is clear about gratitude and that as believers, we are called to practice gratitude with humility and joy! The deep-rooted happiness that we can experience is not necessarily found through merely saying “thank you” occasionally, but from genuinely practicing thankfulness in our daily lives. That feeling of genuine gratitude protects us from feelings of envy, entitlement, and resentment, which essentially rob us of joy in life.
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” -1st Thessalonians 5:16-18
When Paul first began his ministry, he had plenty of people who disagreed with him. In fact, he was often thrown in prison or had death threats against him simply for believing and sharing in the gospel. So often I hear Christians discuss how Paul was able to keep going on. Yes, the joy of the LORD kept him moving forward in his ministry, but we can’t deny that he took an active roll in choosing that joy every day. That is exactly what gratitude is – choosing to look at the good, at your blessings from above, in spite of the bad. Paul thanked God unceasingly for the positive responses to his ministry, even though there were plenty who’s responses were quite the opposite!
The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies [God].” -Psalm 50:23
While Thanksgiving Day is still a beautiful way for us as a a society to take some time to be thankful, practicing gratitude is not necessarily something that comes naturally in our modern-day culture here in the US. Creating inside of you a grateful heart requires a conscious decision each and every day.
How you can create in yourself a grateful heart
You are what you think. If you focus on the good and make a point to genuinely thank others and thank God for all the good in your life, you’ll start to see it everywhere. Your daily practice will become a habit and your habit will become a lifestyle. Pretty soon, your gratitude will create in you a thankful and joyful spirit. Satan tries so hard to stomp on the good that God does in this world. By practicing gratitude, you are choosing to see through the evil and focus on the One who made the Earth and the heavens and who holds your future in His hands.
3 Simple Ways to Practice Gratitude
- Write a ‘Thank You’ note – Tell someone why you’re thankful for them or something they did.
- Keep a blessings journal – Each day, write down three things you are thankful for.
- Pray – This is essentially a ‘Thank You’ note to God. Tell Him thanks for all he has done.
- 30 DAYS OF GRATITUDE CHALLENGE:
Since there are so many benefits from practicing gratitude, I ask you to join me in the 30 Days of Gratitude Challenge! Every day in the month of November, starting tomorrow, I’m asking you to post something you’re thankful for! I’ll be doing it too! You can post to your instagram or in the stories, but make sure you tag me in it so I can see and share! When you post, use the hashtags #thehisforhereswhatimthankfulfor and #30daysofgratitude!