I must admit that I'm a realist. I have absolutely no problem identifying the countless challenges in my life at any point in time. On the other hand, the blessings don't seem to recall themselves quite as quickly. In fact, if I'm honest, being thankful takes more effort. And I know that I'm not alone in this. Maybe it's the unending cycles of negative news coming from our devices or the fact that our brains are survivalists by default. Whatever the reason, by all accounts, being grateful requires intention.
THE BENEFITS OF GRATITUDE
On the surface, gratitude can seem insignificant. The demands of our daily lives require serious focus and attention - who has the time to be grateful, and is it even necessary? But I'm positive that like me, you've also witnessed the benefits of gratitude and discovered that like physical exercise, they can be apparent and motivating. Here are a few benefits that immediately came to mind:
- Gratitude puts us in a positive state of mind
- Gratitude causes us to focus on all that we have
- Gratitude reminds us of the good in our lives
- Gratitude replaces our frustration with appreciation
In fact, it turns out gratitude is not so insignificant after all. As social researcher, Brene Brown explains: "What I found in twelve years of research - 11,000 pieces of data - I did not interview in all that time a person who would described themselves as joyful or describe their lives as joyous, who did not actively practice gratitude. Practicing gratitude invites joy into our lives."
What's more, according to an article from Harvard Medical School, the practice of gratitude can not only make you feel more optimistic and better about your life, it can also positively impact your physical health. The article suggests the following simple ways we can cultivate gratitude on a daily basis:
- Write a thank you note
- Thank someone mentally (if you don't have time to write the note)
- Keep a gratitude journal
- Count your blessings
To encourage our ongoing practice of gratitude, I would like to share these five inspiring quotes with you:
“This is a wonderful day. I’ve never seen this one before.” - Maya Angelou
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” - 1 Thessalonians 5:18
“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” - Melody Beattie
“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” - Zig Zigler
“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 2:7
With gratitude, Aaron.