2015_11_24_Resized_Practice_GratitudeWe count our blessings each year on Thanksgiving, but what would happen if we practiced gratitude each and every day? After all, it doesn’t have to cost any money and takes very little time and effort. The answer might surprise you. Recent studies have found that being thankful throughout the year has many wonderful benefits:

1. Gratitude improves physical health. Grateful people generally tend to lead healthier lives than others. They also report fewer aches and pains. As no surprise, people who are grateful for their health tend to take better care of themselves. They engage in physical exercise more often and are more likely to get annual check-ups, both of which contribute to a healthy lifestyle.
2. Gratitude improves our psychological health. Practicing gratitude reduces many negative emotions such as envy, frustration, resentment, and regret that can become toxic and lead to depression.
3. Gratitude helps build stronger relationships. Expressing appreciation for the kindness of other people affirms them. It also fortifies our relationships. Moreover gratitude opens up doors of opportunities. For example, something as simple as sending a thank you note to a colleague can create an opportunity that otherwise would not have happened.
4. Gratitude increases mental strength. Research studies have found a direct relationship between gratitude and our overall well-being. Grateful people tend to have a more positive outlook on life. Being thankful for what we do have, even in the midst of devastating circumstances, fosters resilience and helps us to better weather adversity.
5. Gratitude fuels our joy. I don’t know of anyone who couldn’t use more joy. Grateful people recognize the blessings all around them and this in turn stimulates their joy.
6. Gratitude helps us to appreciate how God has made us. People who are grateful are more likely to embrace their uniqueness and thus less likely to compare themselves to others, which fosters discontentment and resentment.
7. Gratitude makes us more empathetic, sensitive, and sympathetic to the well-being of others. Grateful people tend to practice the Golden Rule of treating others the way they’d want to be treated. This results in more positive behaviors towards others.
8. Gratitude helps us to sleep better. Spending just a few minutes reflecting on or writing down our blessings before going to bed could help us have more restful sleep.

What can you do to build a sense of gratitude?
Adjust our perspective. The things we take for granted—access to good medical care, a house, food in our pantries, automobiles, washers and dryers, etc. are luxuries for more than 99% of the world’s population. Instead of complaining about having to do five loads of country, thank God that you have a family to do laundry for. Instead of complaining about a messy house, be thankful that you have a house. I once read something very poignant, “There was a man who complained about his shoes hurting his feet until he met a man who had no feet.”

When you find yourself being ungrateful, you can you stop yourself in your tracks by recognizing that everything you have is an undeserved gift from the kind hands of grace. This will open our eyes to all the wonderful gifts God has given us or placed in our lives. When we look at life this way, it becomes easier to become more thankful for what we do have. Developing an “attitude of gratitude” is one of the simplest way to have contentment in life. The familiar hymn says it all:

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God has done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your many blessings, see what God has done.

Psalm 107:1 teaches, “Oh give thanks to the Lord for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.” What blessings are you grateful for today?

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