Three Surprising Benefits of Gratitude

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We’ve always known that there are multiple benefits to being a thankful person. This week, I want to highlight three areas that I found to be inspiring and motivating. Hopefully, as we examine these benefits we will each take more deliberate steps to change our thinking patterns and focus on the good in our lives.

Less Stress – Neuroscience has discovered that thankful thoughts actually produce pleasure in the brain. Numerous other studies show the reduction of stress when we intentionally focus on what we are thankful for on a regular basis. One study even demonstrated that people who are grateful tend to sleep better.  And did you know that stress hormones like cortisol are 23 percent lower in grateful people? That’s enough to keep me motivated!

Humility – When we turn our hearts upward in thanks to God, we are recognizing all that we are and all that we have comes from Him. Pride on the other hand, says, “I did it myself,” and tends to ignite ego-centered and self-righteous thought patterns. A grateful heart acknowledges that our source of wisdom and strength comes from God – He is the one who gives us the gifts and talents to do what He has put us on this earth to do.

Better Relationships – When we are thankful, gracious and humble, we are more likely to demonstrate patience and self-control toward others. We tend to see the best in others rather than complaining about the worst in them, when we actively practice gratitude. Probably the most obvious reason grateful people have better relationships is because they are more delightful to be around. Who enjoys company with a Negative Nancy? One CNN report confirmed, “Couples who exhibit thankfulness tend to be more committed to each other and are more likely to remain in their relationships.”

Living a life of gratitude brings out the beauty in each of us. Let’s make it a daily practice to give thanks by writing at least five things we are thankful for in a journal every morning. The more specific and sincere, the better! Instead of simply writing, “I’m thankful for a great day yesterday,” write, “I’m grateful I had the opportunity to spend time with my best friend yesterday – shopping, laughing and walking around at the mall together.” We each have the power to change our focus. November is the perfect time to turn over a new leaf, don’t you think?

Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash

 

Giving Thanks while Giving Care

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When you think of the word “Caregiver,” what comes to mind? It’s interesting to think about different stages and times in our lives when we are giving care to others. Whether you are a:

Mom caring for the needs of your kids.

Spouse caring for the needs of your spouse.

Adult child caring for needs of your elderly parents.

Worker caring for the needs of co-workers.

Nurse or Doctor caring for the needs of patients.

Teacher caring for the needs of students.

The list could go on and on, because whenever and wherever we show care to others, we are “caregivers.” Aren’t you thankful that the Lord Himself is the ultimate “Caregiver,” caring for our daily needs as a shepherd cares for his sheep.

My friend Nancy Brown writes a blog specifically for caregivers. Her thoughts and concepts are born from her own challenges, frustrations and joys as she cared for her elderly parents. I’ve invited her to share her unique perspective in light of this Thanksgiving month.

 

Practicing Gratitude While Caregiving

It’s not easy to practice gratitude, especially when you’re in the trenches with caregiving or grieving the loss of a loved one.  It’s so difficult when there is always one more thing to take care of or one more problem to solve. It can feel overwhelming, endless, and thankless at times. Sometimes it feels like we’re doing it alone, but we need to remember that Jesus is with us each step of the way.

I have a little sign on my desk that was given to me by my son when he was five-years old. It simply says, “Keep on praying with a thankful heart.” I look at that sign each day and think about how much wisdom is contained in that simple sentence.  Often, simple reminders can get us back on track when we struggle with gratitude. Try keeping a gratitude journal, and write down five things each day for which you are grateful. When we are grateful, it must please Our Lord so very much. So, it should always be our goal.

Scripture Verses About Gratitude

1 Thessalonians 5:18 Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

 

Psalm 100:4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name.

 

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.

 

Prayer

Dear Father, sometimes it feels like You have given us more than we can carry. Help us to remember that You are carrying us during those times. Help us to be grateful for the difficult times as they are often periods of growth. We know it pleases You when we come to You with grateful hearts, and we pray that we can cultivate thankfulness each day.

If you would like to follow Nancy’s blog, please go to: www.faithfilledcaregivers.com

Photo by Evan Kirby on Unsplash

True Positive: Day Five – Thankfulness

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Want to become a more positive person? Begin a daily routine of giving thanks, and it will change your perspective and outlook on life. When you take a moment to consider the blessings you have encountered over the last 24 hours and reflect on the things you can be glad about, you begin to see that life isn’t as bad as it may seem at times. There are good things happening to us each day, but we have to be looking for them.

Harvard Health Publications from Harvard Medical School wrote this:

In positive psychology research, 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.

For me personally, I write in a journal every morning while I enjoy my first cup of coffee. I intentionally make a list of at least five things I can be grateful for – but my list always goes much longer than simply five! Once I start recounting all the Lord has done or recalling the people I encountered, I can’t help but smile. If I am facing a challenge, I try to consider one thing I can be thankful in the midst of the challenge. This practice can literally transform a grumbly person into a happy one -I know, because that’s what it did for me!

How to Be a Thankful Person

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Thankfulness is a game-changer! It’s one simple attitude that can make a monumental difference in your personal relationships, your work and your outlook on life. I know it may sound simplistic to say that being a thankful person can have such a powerful impact on our lives, but this one mind-shift has the potential to transform your actions and interactions with others. So how can a person develop an attitude of gratitude? Here are a few ways to redirect your thought-life and make positive difference in the world.

  1. Write it down. Start the habit of writing down your blessings in a thankfulness journal every morning as you enjoy your first cup of coffee. Write down at least five things that happened over the last 24 hours for which you can be thankful. You will begin to notice and pay attention to all the good things in your life, rather than being overwhelmed with the negative.
  2. Turn around challenges. When you face frustrations, mistakes, difficulties or challenges, instead of thinking that the world is against you, look for something good. Every challenge has a silver lining, but you must look (sometimes long and hard) to find it. Keep your focus on the benefits and what you can learn from your difficulties.
  3. See the best in others. There are no perfect people. Everyone has their own set of flaws, but thankful people choose to find something good in everyone. It’s easy to focus on people’s negative qualities, so it takes a deliberate effort to look for the good points in others. It’s a choice, but one that will turn your relationships around and open up your heart to the people around you.
  4. Stop grumbling. It’s time to get rid of the complaints and use your time and energy to do something positive. Negative talk only leads to discouragement, bitterness and anger. When you are tempted to grumble, save your words and find something productive you can do to make a difference. Turn grumbling into gratitude through loving actions.
  5. Step back and look at the bigger picture. Often we get worried and upset over circumstances and events, but if we step back and look at the bigger picture we can gain perspective. Often I ask myself, “In the big scheme of life, how much does this really matter?” When we look at things in light of eternity, it reduces our fears and opens our hearts to the opportunity to find blessings in the long run. As the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, “Our light, momentary afflictions are producing in us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen, but the things that are unseen.” Now that’s the perspective of someone with an attitude of gratitude!

Be a grateful person and you will become happy and content with life. It begins with simple habits formed over time to change your perspective. Most important, start each day thanking God for His unfailing love. Let’s celebrate Thanksgiving every day of the year!

 

I love the Lord because He hears my voice and my prayer for mercy.

Because He bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!

…How kind the Lord is! How good he is!

So merciful, this God of ours!

…I will offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord.

Psalm 116:1,2,5,17