Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;his love endures forever.
It's an idea that is front and center in our society today, as it should be. The prominent concept of gratitude has grown to be a popular concept in both Christian and secular circles.
BUT, what are we actually talking about when we talk about gratitude? And how does gratitude become a part of our everyday life? AND does gratitude really matter?
What is gratitude?
Gratitude is defined by Merriam-Webster as the state of being grateful; THANKFULNESS.
As thanksgiving approaches you will inevitably come in contact with challenges to be thankful, activities used to voice gratitude, and a flood-gate of social media posts boasting of thanksgiving that you ONLY see this time of year. But, is this really what gratitude is intended to be?
In every thing give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
In 1 Thessalonians we see this command to give thanks in EVERY THING. Not just what appears to be good in the eyes of the world.
I fear we have settled for a cheap measure of gratitude, one that depends solely on our circumstances. But if true gratitude is in all things, perhaps it is meant to be more of a heart attitude- one that stays with us no matter what we face. We see a true heart of gratitude lived out in the life of the apostle Paul as he says in Phillipians 4:12-13," I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.I can do all this through him who gives me strength. "
How Can Gratitude Become My Everyday Practice?
I'm so glad you ask! In order for anything to become a part of who we are, we must make it a habit. And, according to many articles like this one it takes about 66 days to form a habit.
Our habits start with a choice, a daily choice to implement gratitude. This could simply mean keeping a notebook near by and scribbling down a few things you are grateful for daily. It might mean saying it out loud- professing your gratitude for someone or something everyday. I personally think a combination of the two is the best option for beginning to make an intentional choice of gratitude.
I know, some days, gratitude truly DOES feel hard:
When you find your marriage crumbling,
When your dreams feel far away,
When your career has fallen flat,
When motherhood is just plain messy,
When people you love are sick, or hurting, or dying.
Gratitude is not always are natural response. But, I think if we work to start forming this habit now, even on the worst of days gratitude will begin to come more easily.
What difference does it make?
This is the part that really sold me on the concept of gratitude, and the question many of you likely still have- does gratitude make a difference?
Amazingly, the answer on many levels is absolutely YES.
Many well-researched articles note the fact that gratitude improves things like relationships, mental health, physical well-being, sleep patterns, self esteem, and more.
Over and over again, Scripture talks about the value of living a life of gratitude, offering praise and thanksgiving. Since we know God, we know His Word offers wise truths for our life.
But, on top of our own experience, and Scriptural truth, science also backs up this idea of gratitude! How awesome is that?
These studies done by Professor Robert Emmons offer proof to the physical and mental benefits of practicing gratitude on a regular basis.
So need a pick me up? Choose gratitude.
Feeling a little down? Practice gratitude.
Physically unwell? Focus on being thankful for something, anything!
Let's all make it our goal to practice gratitude everyday, form a habit, and become people who live grateful lives, even on the hard days.
Psalm 136:26 "Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever"
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