Gratitude is defined as the quality of being thankful, a readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. When I think about gratitude in terms of God and being “grateful” for the things he has done for me I wonder what the quality of my thankfulness is. I thing about the times when I have done something for someone, even when it is out of my own desire or volition, I still want a sign of gratefulness such as a thank you. If that gratefulness is of a higher quality (i.e. passionate or heartfelt) I feel like doing even more for that person.
When we are thankful, our focus moves off selfish desires and off the pain of current circumstances. By expressing thankfulness we remember that God is in control. Thankfulness, then, is not only appropriate, but it is actually healthy and beneficial to us. It reminds us of the bigger picture, that we belong to God, and that we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing (Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places). Ephesians 1:3.
Truly, we have an abundant life (The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly). John 10:10.
Robert Emmons, perhaps the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude, argues that gratitude has two key components, which he describes in a Greater Good essay, “Why Gratitude Is Good.”
“First,” he writes, “it’s an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received.”
In the second part of gratitude, he explains, “we recognize that the sources of this goodness are outside of ourselves. … We acknowledge that other people—or even higher powers—if you’re of a spiritual mindset—gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.”
Sociologist Georg Simmel called gratitude “the moral memory of mankind.”
Over the past decade, hundreds of studies have documented the social, physical, and psychological benefits of gratitude. The research suggests these benefits are available to most anyone who practices gratitude, even in the midst of adversity. Here are some of the top research-based reasons for practicing gratitude.
Gratitude brings us happiness.
Gratitude also reduces anxiety and depression.
Gratitude is good for our bodies.
Grateful people sleep better.
Gratitude makes us more resilient.
Gratitude strengthens relationships.
Gratitude promotes forgiveness.
Gratitude makes us “pay it forward”.
Gratitude is good for kids.
Gratitude is good for schools.