“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)
The bible says to give thanks but did you know that modern research shows that gratitude is actually good for you? Really good for you!
Research has shown that people who express gratitude daily have higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism, and energy. Thankful people also experienced less depression and stress, were more likely to help others, exercised more regularly, and made greater progress toward achieving personal goals. That’s how I would rather live!
Dr. Robert Emmons – who has been studying gratitude for almost ten years and is considered by many to be the world’s leading authority on gratitude – is author of the book, “Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier ”.
Dr. Emmons’ research shows that thankful people have a stronger immune system, have stronger social relationships bounce back quicker from adversity, and are more creative than those who don’t practice gratitude.
He says “To say we feel grateful is not to say that everything in our lives is necessarily great. It just means we are aware of our blessings.” So true!
His studies also show is that practicing gratitude can increase happiness levels by around 25%. Your body sets a basic level of happiness. If something bad happens to you during the day, your happiness level will drop, but then it will return to its natural set-point. So if something positive happens to you, your level of happiness will rise, and then it will return to your “happiness set-point”. If you practice gratitude you will raise your “happiness set-point” and can remain at a higher level of happiness regardless of outside circumstances.
Cultivating an attitude of gratitude is not easy. It is, according to Dr. Emmons, a “chosen attitude.” We must be willing to recognize and acknowledge that we are the recipients of an unearned benefit. If we roll up our sleeves and commit ourselves to becoming grateful, we will see that with gratitude comes abundance.
For instance we often take for granted the good that is already present in our lives. I know I do! There’s a gratitude exercise that instructs you to imagine losing some of the things that you take for granted, such as your home, your ability to see or hear, your ability to walk, or anything that currently gives you happiness. Then imagine getting each of these things back, one by one, and consider how grateful you would be for each and every one.
Another important way he says to build gratitude is to start finding joy in the small things instead of holding out for big achievements—such as getting the promotion, having a comfortable retirement saved up, getting married, having the baby, and so on–before allowing ourselves to feel gratitude and happiness.
Gratitude can help you put all things in perspective. When things don’t go your way, remember that every difficulty carries within it an equal or greater benefit. In the face of adversity ask yourself: “What’s good about this?”, “What can I learn from this?”, and “How can I benefit from this?”
When we start looking for things to be grateful for, we will find that we begin to appreciate simple pleasures and things that we previously took for granted. Gratitude should not be just a reaction to getting what we want. Gratitude should always present. Gratitude will notice the little things and look for the good even in unpleasant situations.
I want to start bringing gratitude into my experiences today. I don’t want to wait for a positive experience in order to feel grateful. With God’s help I want be on my way to “Giving thanks in all circumstances.”
Don’t crash your life with constant dissatisfaction, be thankful. I want to be a more grateful person and I hope you will join me!
For more on this topic, or to find out how we become dissatisfied, check out the message, this Sunday “Steering Toward Dissatisfaction” www.ridgefellowhip.com