I ask this because in an article in “Psychology Today” on “The Benefits of Being Thankful,” Clay Routledge, Ph.D., said he discovered it is personally and socially advantageous to be thankful. Dr. Routledge, an assistant professor of psychology at North Dakota State University, said across three experiments, researchers Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough found evidence that the experience of gratitude leads to positive psychological, physical and social outcomes.
“In general, participants who were asked to think about what they were grateful for, compared to control condition participants, experienced greater levels of optimism, positive mood, and feelings of belongingness over the period of the study,” Routledge said.
“That is, experiencing gratitude promoted psychological well-being. Further, in one study, these participants reported fewer physical illness symptoms and indicated spending more time exercising. This suggests that gratitude may also promote healthy living. Also, these participants were more likely to report helping someone with a personal problem or offering emotional support to others. In other words, gratitude may also motivate pro-social or moral behavior.”
That gratitude is more than an emotion, but has the power to move people to action is seen in the words of British poet Elizabeth Bartlett who said, “I have found that it is not enough for me to be thankful. I have a desire to do something in return. To do thanks. To give thanks. Give things. Give thoughts. Give love. So gratitude becomes the gift, creating a cycle of giving and receiving, the endless waterfall.”
This is in line with the inspired wisdom found in the Holy Bible at Colossians 3:15 which tells Christians to “show yourselves thankful.” — New World Translation. The 2009 article concluded by saying, “The take home message is that being grateful is good for you and those around you. So on Thanksgiving, be sure to take a little time to actually be thankful. Also, even though Thanksgiving is the holiday that such reflection is perhaps most likely, based on the research conducted by Emmons and McCullough, it may be a good idea to take a little time each day to be grateful.”
Norman Vincent Peale, author of “The Power of Positive Thinking,” said “The more you practice the art of thankfulness, the more you have to be thankful for. This, of course, is a fact. Thankfulness does tend to reproduce in kind. The attitude of gratitude revitalizes the entire mental process by activating all other attitudes.”
Even Buddha was quoted as saying, “Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.”
Why not start with expressions of thanks to God? Ephesians 5:20 says, “Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” — New International Version.
Here’s another way of looking at it: “I am thankful for the alarm that goes off in the early morning hours because it means I am alive, for the taxes I pay because it means I am employed, for the clothes that fit a little too snug because it means I have enough to eat, for a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning and gutters that need fixing because it means I have a home, for the pile of laundry and ironing, because it means I have clothes to wear.
“I am grateful for my huge heating bill because it means I am warm, for the mess to clean after a party because it means I have been surrounded by friends, for the parking spot I find at the far end of the parking lot because it means I am capable of walking and I have been blessed with transportation.”
See. It all depends on how we look at things. We have so much to be thankful for, especially for spiritual things. As millions continue to pray for God’s kingdom to come, I am reminded of this remarkable gift from God. As Hebrews 12:28 tells us: “Let us be thankful, then, because we receive a kingdom that cannot be shaken. Let us be grateful and worship God in a way that will please him, with reverence and awe.” — Good News Translation.
Worshiping God “in a way that will please him” requires a study of His Word, the Bible. Why not take advantage of that? It just may be the most important thing you will ever be thankful for!