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How Does Gratitude Play into Your Health?

Are you a thankful person? This is a great time to consider that question as we come off of the holiday in which we are supposed to celebrate our thankfulness. Other than this one day a year, how much do you express gratitude?

I have been thinking about gratitude lately and, honestly, about how poorly I express it. I’ve tried to write down things I’m grateful for on a daily basis and failed too many times. I’ve even considered trying Ben Greenfield’s Christian Gratitude Journal, but haven’t forked over the money yet.

Regardless, gratitude is important and even critical in your overall health and wellness. I want to challenge you to join me in becoming a more grateful person!

What is Gratitude?

So what is gratitude and why is it important? I mean, you pray before your meals and tell your wife thank you right?

Gratitude is much more than this. It is an attitude. Giving thanks is much more than just expressing the words. It is a matter of the heart.

The Bible commands that we be a thankful people. Not just thankful, but thankful in every circumstance of life.

  • Is your family healthy and happy? GIVE THANKS!
  • Are you working your dream job and making a good living? GIVE THANKS!
  • Is your health failing or you just received an unfavorable diagnosis? GIVE THANKS!
  • Is your marriage on the rocks and going through a tough patch? GIVE THANKS!
  • Is your job less than desirable or you’ve been laid off? GIVE THANKS!

Now, I understand that in the difficult times it isn’t easy to give thanks. When your health is failing or you are unemployed, you don’t feel thankful. But, as a Christian you have so much to be thankful for!

Thankful in Christ

Ok, heart check here. Where does your thankfulness lie? Is it in people? What about in circumstances?

When our thankfulness is rooted in anything but Jesus Christ we will fail to maintain the heart attitude of gratitude that is mentioned in 1 Thessalonians.

Circumstances will change…often. People will fail us. There will always be difficult times and reasons to fail to find something to be thankful for.

Rather, read what Paul teaches in Colossians 3:15-17:

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Thankfulness toward God in everything is the heart attitude every Christian should exhibit!

Gratitude and Your Health

So how does gratitude affect your health? Can you really be healthier just by expressing more gratitude? I believe the answer is yes!

Let me begin with the opposite of gratitude. How did you feel the last time you spent the day angry and frustrated? Terrible right?

When we go through life with the “Woe is me” attitude, life is miserable. Everything seems to go poorly for us, whether they actually are or not. People who live this way are at greater risk of heart attack, ulcers, and early death.

On the contrary, gratitude makes you happier, improves relationships, and can provide improved sleep.

One Newsweek article, referring to studies on the subject, stated:

Dozens of studies have shown that when people actively take the time to list the things they are grateful for, they feel better mentally and physically than participants who haven’t done the same.

Newsweek, November 25, 2015. 5 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude

The article went on to list improved sleep, increased empathy, and increased resilience as benefits of gratitude along with improved health.

A University of Berkeley study linked gratitude to activity in the brain and specifically that of morality.

Gratitude can have a tremendous impact on your overall health. Regardless of your diet, exercise, and sleep patterns–gratitude can make or break your health routine.

Are You Up for the Challenge?

How about you? Are you up for the challenge of expressing more gratitude?

Later this week I want to share some specific ways that you can weave gratitude into your life in an effort to become a more thankful person. In the meantime…

What are you going to do this week to become a more thankful person?