Is your glass typically half full or half empty?
The answer makes a difference. The answer will change your life. God’s Word points to the importance of gratitude in life…
… give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18
In this article, we will cover the importance of gratitude in life and its powerful impact.
Being grateful means deeply appreciative of kindness or benefits received. Can you think of the last time you felt deeply appreciative? Do you ever stop and reflect on your blessings?
Practicing gratitude is like…
Can you recall the last movie you watched? Did you notice the same scene is often shot from various angles? What would life be like if we viewed it through different angles? Recall a difficult time you went through… what angle did you view your circumstances?
Admittedly, I tend to get stuck on the things going wrong day to day. What if I switched my focus? Or at least spent equal time on the things going wrong and the things for which I can be grateful.
When we choose to do what God tells us, there is blessing (Luke 11:28). For centuries, God’s Word has pointed to great importance of gratitude in life. Only recently, is research backing up what God’s Word has been saying all along.
Let’s outline how the Bible and modern research demonstrate the importance of gratitude in life.
Importance of Gratitude in Life
8 Reasons to Have an Attitude of Gratitude
1. Healthy Thought Life
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy I – think about such things.” Philippians 4:8
Our thoughts are pretty powerful. They impact our emotions and actions. In other words, thoughts affect everything. In fact, negative emotions such as anxiety, anger, resentment and depression all start with a thought.
But here is an encouraging fact – you can only think one thing at a time. The leading researcher on gratitude, Robert Emmons, says this…
“Gratitude blocks toxic emotions such as envy, resentment, regret and oppression, which kinda story our happiness. It’s impossible to feel envious and grateful at the same time.”
Choosing to practice gratitude shifts our focus to what is going right, rather than camping on what is going wrong. Just like the movie angles – we have to choose our angle.
2. Gratitude Boosts Mental Health
Robert Emmons’s research indicates practicing gratitude will boost your happiness by 25%. Gratitude is quite possibly one of the most powerful antidotes to depression and anxiety. Emmons goes on to show how gratitude affects the brain – when we express or receive gratitude, our brain releases serotonin and dopamine. Both are neurotransmitters responsible for making us feel good immediately. In other words, gratitude leads to happiness – not the other way around.
3. More Contentment
Practicing gratitude leads to greater contentment. Contentment is defined as a state of happiness and satisfaction. Despite living in a world where constantly striving for more is the norm, we can do something simple (practice gratitude) to be more content. Gratitude leads to the contentment and contentment leads to being still, living in the present.
Imagine a day when comparisons stop and joy in our current circumstances prevail. Shifting our focus to our blessings rather than where we believe we are lacking cultivates more contentment.
4. Improved Relationships
Expressing and receiving gratitude improves relationships. It’s nice to know when we are appreciated. When is the last time you told someone you appreciate them? Can you recall the last time someone expressed appreciation for you? How did that make you feel? The expression of gratitude brings closeness and greater intimacy and relationships.
5. More Peace
In the United States, anxiety is the most prevalent mental health issue out there. More than 40 million adults lack peace in their day-to-day lives. Practicing gratitude shifts our focus from worrying about the future to focusing on the present. We begin to identify what is good in the present and we stop focusing on the “what if’s” of the future. More piece is the outcome.
6. Faith is Strengthened
“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds. Psalm 77:11-12
Whatever you put your mind to will grow. Putting your mind on how God is working and blessing your life will increase your faith. Any time spent meditating on God’s goodness, is time well spent.
7. Better Sleep
According to greatergood.berkeley.edu, people who practiced gratitude fell asleep more quickly, stayed asleep longer and reported better quality sleep. Sleep is improved by gratitude.
8. Improved Physical Health
Emmons research is also indicating that journaling gratitude on a weekly basis decreased physical symptoms such as headaches, sore muscles, nausea etc. Other studies indicate gratitude leads to good heart health. While more research on a gratitude and physical health is in the works – preliminary results show the importance of gratitude in life.
How to Act on the Importance of Gratitude in Life
Now that we are sold on so many amazing benefits of practicing gratitude, how can we cultivate gratitude in our daily lives?
1. Gratitude Journal
Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits. Psalm 103:2
There is something powerful that happens when we put pen to paper. Gratitude journaling shifts our focus to praising God. We are better able to identify and remember our blessings when we write them down.
2. Tell Others of Your Blessings
I will give thanks to the Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. Psalms 9:1
Sharing your blessings, brings glory to God and encourages others. What would our conversations be like if we traded gossiping and complaining for giving thanks?
3. Pray for a Grateful Heart
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we have asked of him. 1 John 5:14 – 15
God’s will for our lives is to give thanks (1 Thessalonians 5:18), therefore we can pray for a grateful heart. Ask God to give you eyes to see the good in each situation. As you cultivate gratitude in your life you will see the blessings all around you!
Sooo, are you seeing the importance of gratitude in life, yet? When we practice gratitude, we experience better physical, mental and spiritual health and wellness. Gratitude improves our relationships, thoughts and satisfaction level. It’s time to practice gratitude – it’s free and doesn’t take much time.
Begin practicing through gratitude journaling, telling others of God’s blessings and praying that God would open your eyes to His goodness.
How do you practice gratitude? Leave your tips in the comments below.