Gratitude - The Key to Healthy Life

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We believe that your health is not only a cause of what you eat, drink, and do physically, but that health starts with your spiritual and emotional well-being. We are body, soul, and spirit and that means we must nourish and value each of these aspects of ourselves in order to be "healthy" people. Most of the time we emphasize our physical health, what we put into our bodies and how active we are. Today we want to talk about each of these aspects of ourselves, specifically the practice of gratitude and why we think it is key to a happy and healthy life. 

This isn't a new concept by any means. Like most things humans discover, the Bible has it laid out. The Bible addresses gratitude and thankfulness many times, and even if we haven't noticed it before, it outlines the health benefits we receive when we practice gratitude. It tells us that if we give thanks we will have the peace that transcends all understanding (Philippians 4:6). And the opposite - if we don't give thanks to God, our thinking will become futile and our hearts darkened (Romans 1:21). Praying and giving thanks is what the Lord has told us to do to overcome anxious and depressive thoughts that we all know are destructive to our overall health and well-being. 

It's no surprise humans are now studying this and establishing connections between gratitude and joy. You can find articles, scientific studies, blogger journals, and more on the internet talking about the benefits of gratitude and how it has changed lives. 

In one study, participants who practiced gratitude regularly reported fewer health problems (including headaches, gastrointestinal problems, respiratory infections, and sleep disturbances); in another, the people practicing gratitude reported fewer physical symptoms (including headaches, dizziness, stomachaches, and runny noses). A study done at Berkeley found that individuals in the gratitude group reported better mental health only four weeks after beginning their Gratitude Letters, and the difference in mental health became even greater
12 weeks after beginning these activities. 

Here are seven scientifically proven benefits of gratitude:

1. Gratitude opens the door to more relationships.

2. Gratitude improves physical health.

3. Gratitude improves psychological health.

4. Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression.

5. Grateful people sleep better.

6. Gratitude improves self-esteem. 

7. Gratitude increases mental strength.

How do you become more grateful? It's like most things in life - it starts with practice. 

Here are five ways to practice gratitude:  

  1. Grab a journal or notebook and every day write down five things for which you are grateful.

  2. You can try the Berkeley Study method and write one Gratitude Letter each week by following their guidance here.

  3. Play worship music that's focused on giving thanks and glory to God. We all love the "me" focused songs talking about how God loves us (and we need those songs too), but be intentional about choosing songs with lyrics that give thanks to Jesus. There's nothing like singing thankfulness to get you in a better mood. 

  4. Each week pick one person you know and tell them how grateful you are for him or her being in your life. 

  5. Be mindful of when you're being ungrateful. What's more dangerous than not showing gratitude is being actively ungrateful (this can come out as grumpiness, passive aggressiveness, anger, perfectionism, and much more). Every time you catch yourself being ungrateful, stop and ask the Lord for forgiveness and ask Him to change your heart and give you thankfulness in that moment. 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:6

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile, and their foolish hearts were darkened. - Romans 1:21