People in the United States recently celebrated Thanksgiving, the holiday least associated with commercialism (unless you are a turkey!). It is a day to focus on our blessings as families and friends meet together. Just a few days ago, we celebrated Christmas, which is probably the most commercialized holiday around the world.
This holiday originally focused on the greatest gift of all–God giving His only Son to save us from our sins. Although this is often lost in the secular expectations and hustle and bustle of the season. How grateful we should be for that wondrous gift! What's more, gratitude can actually change us!
In the book Positive Psychology in Practice, contributors Giacomo Bono, Robert A. Emmons, and Michael E. McCullough authored an interesting chapter (29) titled "Gratitude in Practice and the Practice of Gratitude." Notice what they said: “We contend that gratitude is a key element for sparking positive changes in individuals, families, and organizations. . . . Gratitude must, and can, be cultivated. And by cultivating the virtue, it appears that people may get the pleasure of gratitude, and all of the other attendant benefits, thrown in for free.”
Even gratitude for the less than pleasant parts of life can bring benefits! A recent study found that when seniors had a positive and grateful attitude toward aging, they experienced a 44% greater likelihood of recovery from severe disability versus those with negative attitudes toward aging.
The Bible says "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength." Proverbs 17:22. This has lots of scientific support. A heart filled with gratitude benefits our physical, mental, and spiritual health. Saying thank you costs little, but brings great rewards.
At the beginning of another year, resolve to practice the outward expression of gratitude for all the good–and less than good–things in your life. This is often the "forgotten factor."
"In everything give thanks. For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus" 1 Thess 5:18