Wouldn’t it be nice if we were always thankful for everything we have been given in life? It’s so easy for irritation, discouragement, and anxiety to get in our way. Even so, we need to remember that the benefits of gratitude can be far-reaching in our lives.
Not only does gratefulness help us, but it blesses those around us as well. Gratitude and loving others really go hand-in-hand.
Gratitude and Loving Others
Life is challenging. We face daily inconveniences, bad news, and failures. Emotions can so easily take over when hard things happen (or when we worry about hard things happening) and loving others becomes impossible.
But the Bible and God’s design within our bodies demonstrate how we can improve our attitude and experience in those hard times. One practical way is by practicing gratitude. The benefits of gratitude impact nearly our entire lives – our mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health.
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:18
It’s God’s will for us to be grateful no matter what challenges we face. What types of things can we be grateful for? Well, just about any little blessing, from each breath we take and the clothes we’re wearing, to the people we get to enjoy life with.
Even when things are hard, it’s God’s unending love and goodness that we can be thankful for (Psalm 106:7). And, the benefits of gratitude that we begin to see impact both us and anyone we interact with.
Related Post: 5 Simple Ways to Show God’s Love to Others
Gratitude and Mental Health
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Philippians 4:6-8
The apostle Paul faced incredibly hard things in his life! Yet he tells us in Philippians that gratitude and prayer are an antidote to anxiety. Instead of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, he encourages us to recognize all that “is excellent or praiseworthy.” That is the start of gratitude!
As we change our thinking, we can focus better on what God wants for our lives (Romans 12:2). While God has a unique calling for every person, we can be sure that loving others is part of His will for every one of us. (Interesting how the findings of research support the Word of God that was written thousands of years earlier!)
Gratitude and mental health go hand-in-hand, especially when we face challenges. Gratitude actually changes our brain and emotions. Thankfulness increases our ability to experience and express joy and love, and our readiness to serve others.
The Benefits of Gratitude
The benefits of gratitude impact our lives in countless ways—from improved immunity, to better mental health, greater optimism and satisfying relationships.
More specifically, our brains can change throughout our lives. The more we practice gratitude – like thinking about all we are blessed with (rather than all we wish we had) – our minds will naturally lean toward gratitude. When young children learn to be grateful, they are more emotionally resilient later in life.
Research shows that practicing gratitude on purpose each day “invites joy” into our lives. The benefits of gratitude even go on to create deeper relationships when we involve others and connect on a new level.
God is calling us to love others and be grateful. Start or end each day by recognizing just a few things you’re grateful for. Perhaps write down one thing that pleasantly surprised you today before going to bed. Repeat this each day and see how it might begin to change your perspective.
Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). So, instead of simply seeking to do what feels good or comfortable, consider giving back to someone else and see how it impacts you. Try something simple like holding a door open, helping with a quick task, or paying for the person behind or next to you.
Real love is shown by actions, and gratitude is best when expressed, too. Whether in writing or words, kept between you and God or shared with another person, we encourage you to look for things to be thankful for and discover for yourself the benefits gratitude.
Related Post: 20 Bible Verses About Thankfulness