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Purposeful Gratitude

Staci Gainor

There is nothing quite as beautiful as the autumn season here in Western Pennsylvania: the glorious changing leaves usher in my favorite time of year! Soon it will be Thanksgiving. Our hearts and minds naturally focus inward to appreciate the countless blessings in our lives and upward to praise and thank the One whose goodness provides every good thing. James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”

These days, it is easy to slip into the habit of complaining about even the most insignificant of things. Anyone can fall prey to this pattern; however, we would be wise to practice purposeful gratitude. The Bible is laden with verses that reflect this idea. Ephesians 5:20 states, “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,” and Psalms 100:4 encourages us to “enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.” Psalm 106:1 says, “Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever,” and Psalm 107:1 says almost the exact same thing!

Last October, I began writing in a gratitude journal every night before I went to sleep. Just a sentence or two of something or someone for which I was thankful. This list will never be exhaustive, and its sentiments remind me on a daily basis of how blessed I truly am.

Counting one’s blessings also has a profound benefit on our health. As Amanda Logan, CNP at the Mayo Health Clinic explained, “Expressing gratitude is associated with a host of mental and physical benefits. Studies have shown that feeling thankful can improve sleep, mood, and immunity. Gratitude can decrease depression, anxiety, difficulties with chronic pain and risk of disease.”

Well, what is the practical application here?

  • Train ourselves to look for the good in all situations.

  • Thank God daily for His goodness, grace, and mercy.

  • Communicate gratitude to our family, friends, and co-workers via texts, post-it notes, calls, cards, etc.

Assuredly, when we live out these actions, it will not only change our hearts but also positively impact those in our circle of influence. Gratitude can be contagious; moreover, it pays generous dividends!

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