“Let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe” (Hebrews 12:28b).
Did you know that starting your day with gratitude and thanksgiving is one of the best things you can do to improve your life? It has an immediate, powerful impact on your mental and emotional wellbeing. Long-term studies support gratitude’s effectiveness, suggesting that a positive, appreciative attitude contributes to greater success in work, greater health, peak performance in sports and business, a higher sense of well-being, and a faster rate of recovery from surgery.
When you deliberately begin your day thanking God, you will soon discover that the benefits are numerous.
Being Thankful Improves Your Health
The first benefit is increased mental and emotional wellness. Starting your day by thanking God improves your mood and helps you have a better day. An attitude of gratitude brings you inner peace, lowers your stress levels, increases your optimism, and makes you feel good. All of these benefits combine to put you in a better mood. Scientists have recorded increased levels of serotonin and dopamine, the “feel good” hormones in your brain, after periods of prayer and meditation. They also noted a decrease in anxiety and depression, as well as lower blood pressure.
There are additional physical benefits to being thankful. Researchers have proven that positive people are healthier than their peers. This is partly due to the lower stress levels experienced by those who practice thankfulness. Grateful people are healthier on every level and tend to live longer as well. In fact, according to a study by Harvard Medical School, a thankful mindset actually boosts your immune system– something we all could use in this age of pandemics!
Being Thankful Improves Your Work And Social Life
The practice of giving thanks to God helps clear your mind and allows you to focus more on your tasks for the day. A positive mindset will “lighten your load” and make your job easier and more enjoyable. This in turn will increase your efficiency and productivity– and the smart employer will notice this and act accordingly (think pay raises and promotions). Yes, gratitude can actually bring you success in the workplace over the long term. You’ll get along better with your fellow employees, too, which leads us to the next benefit: improved relationships.
Thankfulness put you in a much better space to relate to the people you care about most. This makes it easier to maintain healthy, caring relationships. When you are truly grateful for the people God has placed in your life, it minimizes the possibility of conflict. People like being appreciated.
These are just a few of the benefits you can get from deliberately beginning each day with thankfulness.
Make Thankfulness A Habit
Here’s a helpful hint. It is especially effective to begin your day by expressing thanks to God for all the good things He has done for you. Many Christians incorporate this into their morning “quiet time” or “devotions.” Whatever you call it, time spent with God is time well spent. If for some reason you struggle with this, just ask yourself, “Where would I be without Him?” You’ll soon think of plenty to be thankful for!
One way to start is by getting a blank journal for a gratitude list. A gratitude list is exactly what it sounds like– a list of things you are grateful for. This doesn’t have to be overwhelming; simply write one thing you are thankful for each day. It could be anything, large or small. Just write whatever comes to mind first. You may find this activity leading naturally into prayer: for example, “Lord, today I am thankful that I have a home. So many people don’t…Father God, please help them and keep them safe…” If you struggle with knowing what to pray about, this can be a good start.
You don’t need to list the same things every morning; in fact, it is best if you do not. Your list will vary from one day to the next and that’s a good thing! You’ll soon be amazed at how blessed you really are!
Counting your blessings will definitely help you develop an attitude of gratitude. But there are many other simple ways to add thankfulness into your everyday life. Here are a few:
- Cherish your friends—when was the last time you told your BFF how much you appreciate them being in your life? Not because of anything they’ve done, but just for loving and supporting you throughout your life’s journey.
- Appreciate God’s wonderful creation—most of us don’t get out into nature as much as we should. And that’s a shame because we miss out on so many wonders! Take time to go outside more. Go to the park and listen to the kids squeal with delight. Watch a hummingbird at your neighbor’s feeder. Enjoy the beauty of the world God created for you.
- Practice not complaining—when you start to notice how often you complain, you’ll be amazed! One day a week, practice not complaining, but rather reframe everything to put a positive, grateful spin on it. And mean it!
- Collect notable quotes– A simple way to remember to express gratitude is by reflecting on gratitude quotes. As we contemplate on the truth of these powerful sayings by people from all walks of life, they help us make a subtle shift in the way we perceive life and enable us to concentrate on the positive things, rather than the negative.
Cultivate An Attitude Of Gratitude
For thankfulness to meet its full healing potential in our lives, it needs to become more than just a Thanksgiving word. We have to learn a new way of looking at things, a new habit. And that can take some time.
That’s why practicing gratitude makes so much sense. Thankfulness is a choice that must be cultivated. When we practice giving thanks for all we have, instead of complaining about what we lack, we give ourselves the chance to see all of life as an opportunity and a blessing. Practicing thankfulness is a skill which is never too late to develop.
To cultivate an attitude of gratitude, we have to take time from our busy day and remember to give thanks for all the blessings that keep coming our way on a daily basis. Gratitude keeps us focused on what we have rather than all the things we don’t have, which keeps us in a victim mentality.
How we feel – how happy we are, how stressed we are, even how well we sleep – may seem like it’s out of our hands, but it’s actually a choice we make. We can choose to be grateful for what we have and happiness follows. Or we can choose to focus on what we’re lacking, who has wronged us, and what’s not going our way. And guess what? We’ll feel miserable. We may blame others, circumstances, or fate for our unhappiness. But at the end of the day it’s all about the choices we make.
Thankfulness balances us and gives us hope. Don’t let the daily blessings God sends go unnoticed.
Colossians 2:6-7 says, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”
How our lives will change when we start overflowing in thankfulness!
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“The Advantages of Optimism” http://www.livingthetransformedlife.com/the-advantages-of-optimism