A Note from Kelly King: Anytime someone in my family starts feeling sorry for themselves, I’m quick to play the “Gimme Ten” game. The person who seems ungrateful must stop and list 10 things for which they are thankful. Sometimes I have to personally play “Gimme Ten” when ungratefulness rears its ugly head. Today I’m grateful for Kaye’s word on the subject. I know you will be too.
What are the two words that are guaranteed to improve your health?
I’ll tell you in just a moment.
I am a fan of all things Disney. I understand not everyone is, but for me, visiting DisneyWorld is one of the only memories I have of family vacations as a child. I have been going to DisneyWorld for over 40 years, first as a kid, and now with my kids. I could go on and on about it, but I won’t. I really just wanted to set up why the following quote is particularly meaningful to me and to the topic for this article. Winnie-the-Pooh was one of my favorite Disney books as a child. For some reason, I relate to that cuddly bear and his sidekick, Piglet (maybe it’s because I like honey!).
“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” —A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
According to WordWeb, gratitude is, “A feeling of thankfulness and appreciation.”
And the two words sure to improve your health?
As you will see, an attitude of gratitude is beneficial in any season, but I believe it is especially beneficial for those in a season of pain or loss. Gratitude allows us to acknowledge the goodness in our lives and helps us recognize the source of that goodness. Gratitude also helps us connect to something beyond our current circumstances—the Giver of all good gifts: God, through His Son, Jesus.
Yesterday, in the United States, we celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday. Thanksgiving began when the colonists gave thanks for their survival and for a good harvest.
So, perhaps November is a good time to review the mental health benefits of gratitude and consider some advice about how to cultivate this attitude of gratitude.
According to a 2015 article in Psychology Today by Amy Morin, there are seven scientifically proven benefits of gratitude. I’ll leave it to you to read it for more detailed explanations, but here are the seven benefits.
- Gratitude opens the door to more relationships.
- Gratitude improves physical health.
- Gratitude improves psychological health.
- Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces regression.
- Grateful people sleep better.
- Gratitude improves self esteem.
- Gratitude increases mental strength.
Sign me up!
For some, cultivating gratitude is difficult enough even in seasons of calm. Add pain and difficulty to your life, and it becomes increasingly difficult. Below are five ways to cultivate gratitude. I pray they are helpful to you and also to those you know who are in a season of struggle.
Five ways to cultivate gratitude:
- Write a thank you note to someone. Mail it, deliver it, or better yet, read it in person. Write one to yourself!
- Keep a gratitude journal. Count your blessings, make a list of people you are thankful for and why and then repeat #1.
- Try praying God’s Word out loud (there is power in His Word and the spoken word).
- Meditate on God’s Word specifically on His provision and promises to you in Scripture.
- Read a good book on the subject of gratitude. If you need a recommendation, try One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.
Earlier I mentioned that Thanksgiving began when the colonists gave thanks for their survival and for a good harvest. In a spiritual sense, every day is Thanksgiving.
The death and resurrection of Jesus guaranteed our survival. John 11:25-26 says, “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me, even if he dies, will live. Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’” (emphasis mine)
Our survival is guaranteed.
A life lived for Christ is also promised a good harvest. In John 15:5, Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. The One who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me.” (emphasis mine)
A good harvest is possible.
And for all of this, I say, “I’m thankful.” How about you?
Kaye has a Masters Degree in counseling from Liberty University and is a crisis counselor for Women’s Events through LifeWay Christian Resources. Whether speaking, singing, or listening, Kaye’s passion is to help others find intimacy with Christ and soul transformation through the living pages of His Word. Kaye met and married her husband Chris in Austin, Texas in 1987. They have two daughters through the miracle of adoption, Madison and Cami. They live in the Chicago burbs where they are both on staff at Willow Creek Community Church. Kaye is also a contributing author for the LifeWay resource, Women Reaching Women in Crisis.