Being thankful is healthy. That’s what the research continues to show. An article in today’s Wall Street Journal health and wellness section addresses recent research that indicates that people who are thankful are happier and healthier. Should we be surprised? Nope, because our Creator gives us that principle in his guidebook for living, the Bible. And, when we follow his principles for living, we’ll generally be healthy. Here are a few of the scriptures that instruct us to have a thankful heart and attitude:
- “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
- “And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:20
- “And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:6-7
- “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.” Psalm 118:1
Some of the highlights taken from the helpful article are as follows:
- Maintaining an attitude of gratitude can improve psychological, emotional and physical well-being.
- The “positive psychology” movement focuses on developing strengths rather than alleviating disorders. Cultivating an attitude of gratefulness is a form of cognitive-behavior therapy which holds that changing one’s thought patterns can dramatically affect their moods…. which has a positive affect on their overall health.
- Counting our blessings can actually make us feel better.
- Gratitude is a complex emotion that requires self-reflection, willingness to admit dependency on God and others, and the humility to realize our own limitations.
- Using negative and critical words in your conversations can darken your mood.
- Journaling helps. There’s an iPad application for gratitude journaling.
- The real benefit comes from changing the way you experience the world (and God – my addition).
It’s too bad the author of the article, Melinda Beck, does not mention the importance of one’s personal faith and thankfulness toward God. But then again, this is just another reflection of the world we live in. How can a person help but recognize the significance of being thankful for their creator and recognize the value in that? Or, for that matter, just be thankful that they are alive, and attribute that to God.
Thankfulness to God can take many forms. My wife and I often do a simple thing – we call it the A to Z Game, though it’s not really a game in the sense that most people use the term. We take turns speaking a word or short phrase that describes God. We start with the letter A and go all the way through the alphabet to the letter Z. It helps us do a few things. First of all it’s a way to worship and praise God. That’s perhaps most important. Secondly, it helps remind us how thankful we are to have a relationship with our Creator. And, sometimes it can help us change our moods. Recently, Janice and I went on a hike in the Blue Ridge mountains. It ended up being much longer and more rigorous than I thought it would be initially. Towards the end, we were exhausted physically and our attitudes had also taken a hit. I suggested that we do the “A to Z” thing. We did this two times over a period of several minutes and after we finished, our outlook and attitude had shifted to become more positive.
We can chose our attitude. We can choose whether or not to be thankful. Deuteronomy 30:19-20 reminds us that it’s our choice. We can choose death or choose life. When we make a choice to be thankful to God, we are choosing life!
What are you thankful for today? I’m thankful for my relationship with God, my wife, my four kids, my father and mom and step-mom, my siblings and their families, my health, my church family and the list goes on and on. Today, I’m also thankful that God has given me an appreciation for nature along with the changing seasons and the colorful leaves that fall.
As the referenced article mentions, being thankful does have health benefits. Be Thankful to God is one of the principles of the Christian faith, or Spiritual Exercises, I’ve identified that contributes to well-being. I’d encourage you to put being thankful to God at the very top of your thankfulness list because God is good and his love will endure forever!
Some Questions to Reflect On:
What are you thankful for today?
Do you make a habit of choosing to have an attitude of gratitude and do you include thankfulness to God in that attitude?
Are you teaching your kids, and modeling for them, the importance of having a thankful attitude?