Gratitude is a gift to the one who chooses it. Sadly, so few choose it.

Research is showing us that there is one oft-overlooked choice we can make that can have a significant positive impact on our health and well-being.  That one choice is gratitude.

  • According to research from the University of California, gratitude can improve one’s health. Individuals who kept a gratitude journal reported fewer physical symptoms of illness than those who did not.
  • According to a different study done in 2012, grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and they report feeling healthier than other people.
  • Grateful people are more likely to behave in a pro-social manner, even when another’s behaviors are less kind, according to a 2012 study by the University of Kentucky.
  • Writing in a gratitude journal improves sleep, according to a 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being.

The psalmist said, “It is good to give thanks to the Lord.” Now we know that “good” includes good for our well-being. Our God asks us to be grateful and thankful in part because it is good for us to live with gratitude.  He is highly concerned about our well-being.  The benefits of gratitude accrue to us.

Gratitude can change our perspective on the circumstances in our lives.  The way we view our circumstances, be they easy or difficult, is transformed.  Notice I did not characterize circumstances as good or bad, but as easy or difficult.  Gratitude helps us to realize that circumstances do not determine the quality of our lives.  Rather than counting difficult circumstances as “bad,” we see them as tools used to shape positive character, build strength, create opportunity for growth, change, and new adventures.  They are good for us, and we can be thankful for them.

One more positive aspect of seeing all circumstances through the lens of gratitude-we can see the work of our God in them.   It is in our most trying circumstances when we experience our God’s greatest gifts of grace and strength.  If we look for them, of course.  And the best way to see them is through the lens of gratitude.

Happy Giving of Thanks Day!