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3 Remarkable Benefits of Thankfulness

Posted on: November 21, 2017


This Thursday is Thanksgiving Day in the United States, a uniquely American holiday. Its origin was a “First Thanksgiving” celebrated by 53 pilgrims and 90 Native Americans in October 1621. It was a three-day feast for celebrating a bountiful harvest after a very difficult year, and for thanking God for his providential blessing.

In 1789, President Washington proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving and it has been celebrated as a federal holiday every year since 1863, when President Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens,” to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November.

It is a good time to remind ourselves of the value and benefits of thankfulness and gratitude.

What Does the Bible Say About Gratitude?

The Bible says a great deal about thankfulness and gratitude.

  • “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving.” Psalm 50:1
  • “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name. Psalm 100:4
  • “Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.” Colossians 2:6-8

If we are in touch with reality, we will be grateful, knowing that our Heavenly Father loves us and supplies all our needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)

What Does Scientific Research Say About Gratitude?

Today, as a result of a growing body of research information, even non-Christians recognize the remarkable benefits of thankfulness and gratitude.

     1. Happiness: Harvard Health Publishing, a publication of Harvard Medical School, reports, “In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness.”

Psychology Today reports that gratitude leads to a happier life. Its focus is on the present and appreciation for what we have now, rather than wanting more and more.

Gratitude turns our mental focus to the positive, which compensates for our brain’s natural tendency to focus on threats, worries, and negative aspects of life. As such, gratitude creates positive emotions like joy, love, and contentment which research shows can undo the grip of negative emotions like anxiety.

Fostering gratitude can also broaden your thinking, and create positive cycles of thinking and behaving in healthy, positive ways.

     2. Health: WebMD touts, “Boost Your Health with a Dose of Gratitude: if you want to get healthier, give thanks.” It goes on to report that gratitude is a great stress buster, which is important because stress is linked to several leading causes of death, including heart disease and cancer, and claims responsibility for up to 90% of all doctor visits.

Gratitude helps you sleep better, boosts the immune system helping the body fight off both minor and major health issues, helps reduce the physical impact of extreme losses in life, and even helps people live longer.

     3. Impact on others: In a Forbes Magazine article, “Your Most Powerful Forgotten Weapon: Gratitude” David Horsager writes:

On a personal level, what are the qualities that attract you to another person?  When I ask this question during speaking sessions, I often hear words like charisma, kindness, or physical appearance. The audience is usually surprised when I tell them that the most magnetic trait is not charisma or even a smile but gratitude. In fact, if you think about it, chances are good that the people you like and respect the most—both personally and professionally—have no problem showing their appreciation.

Much more could be said about the remarkable benefits of gratitude. The purpose of this blog post is not to list all the benefits, but to list representative benefits as a way to persuade us to cultivate gratitude. The Internet is awash with studies revealing an impressive list of benefits that come to us through gratitude.

How Can We Become More Grateful People?

Again, there are many, many ways, but here are a few that made sense to me.

     1. Be grateful for what God gives you rather than ungrateful for what He doesn’t. The Bible says that God will supply all our needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19) We may want more than we have, but we don’t need more than we have.

In Hebrews 13:5, we read, “Make sure your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself said, ‘I will never desert you or forsake you.’”

Benjamin Franklin said “Contentment makes poor people wealthy while discontentment makes wealthy people poor.”

     2. Cultivate an eternal perspective. There is nothing we do for God, or sacrifice we make for God, that He will not reward, many times over, in heaven. Paul said, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18)

As missionary Jim Elliot said, “He is no fool who gives up that which he cannot keep, to gain that which he cannot lose.”

     3. Take practical steps.

  • Say “please” and “thank you.”
  • Smile at others.
  • Write thank you notes or emails, or give “thank you” gifts.
  • Compliment others.
  • Don’t complain or criticize.
  • Put pleasantness in your voice when you talk on the phone.
  • Follow the Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
  • Apologize, if necessary
  • Forgive, if necessary
  • Choose to be a positive person

Take this Thanksgiving Season to become a more grateful person. It will make you happier and healthier, and will give you a greater positive impact on others.

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