A recent Harvard study showed that gratitude is “strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness”. 7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude: including better mental, physical, emotional and psychological health and improved self-esteem due to reduced social comparison. In many ways it is the antidote for envy, resentment, frustration and regret.
Does this study surprise you? Me either. Gratitude is good for you!
But maybe the most compelling thing to me about gratitude is that, before it leads to a better me, it leads me to God!
How? By acknowledging the good gifts around me and recognizing that they are GIVEN (remember, that’s what makes it a gift) by Another I have already made the turn - towards the Giver and away from the self. Gratitude is prayer because it turns my heart outward and upward; it recognizes the Other and others and turns my heart away from self, from me and mine; from I deserve, I earned, I expect. Ingratitude is ugly; taking, consuming, using, demanding, selfish, small, mean, unattractive. Eugene Peterson reminds us, “The self is a very small, cramped, and lonely space.”
Gratitude opens me, helps to move me into the wide-open expanses of God and His image-bearers - which is where we are meant to live. Gratitude begets gratitude begets praise!
NEXT STEPS :
Make time daily this week to practice gratitude before God. Here is a little exercise I’d like to suggest. Sunday, the 7th day of creation when God rested from His work which He called “very good”, is the only day to be “hallowed” - set apart and made holy for remembering and rest. Use your Sunday, your sabbath, as a focused day of remembering and thanking. Recognize and remember God’s gifts this week and thank him. Don’t ask for anything - just be thankful. Write it down so that you can go back and be reminded. Be specific. Try to be thorough - you have the whole day. Take it in little chunks or in an extended time. Enjoy the fruit.