Want to be happier? More optimistic? Generally more content with your life? Thanksgiving, or giving thanks. That’s all you need to make all of these pipe dreams come true.
Sitting on my parents couch, top button of my stretchy jeans unbuttoned, stuffed with lentil casserole, garbanzo casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy, rolls, cranberry jelly, butternut squash soup and cherry pie I breathed a sigh of contentment. My godchild and cousins ran by, my mom laughed with her friends from the kitchen, my dad told military stories to a friend, my best friend chatted with my cousin and I smiled.
This is the purpose of life. Overeating until you can’t breathe.
Just kidding! Relationships. That is what defines me as a person. My love for others, my need for socializing and my deep connection with those that I love.
So what does that have to do with giving Thanks? Well, I live far from the people I am closest too. This last year was challenging, to say the least. Circumstances beyond my control gave me situational depression. (You can read about it here.) A lot of time was spent trying to figure out to be happy again. My faith was never shaken, but my happiness meter dropped to almost empty.
And this is where giving thanks comes in.
During one of my more serious pity parties, I talked to my BFF. She told me how her gratitude journal had made all the difference in her outlook on life. Midori (check out who she is on her blog about how to dress for apple shapes here.) is the happiest person I know, so I decided to give it a shot.
And I felt a change.
An actual immediate change. If I felt sad or stressed, I pulled out my journal, or an app and started to give thanks to God for everything and anything. And I would keep writing until my mood lifted. It was like I could feel the serotonin flooding my body. Some lists were longer than others, and some were creative, but all made a difference.
It was an awesome short term fix, and long term I started feeling more like me.
I have determined to make this a life long habit. I have switched from my written journal to an app. I use one called Gratitude! for lists and one called Grateful if I feel like writing about an event. I love them both!
And this isn’t just a new fangled idea, there is research that shows that having gratitude will increase your overall level of satisfaction and your happiness level. Check out this article from Harvard and this article from psychology today.
More importantly, it is Biblical. Do a quick google search for Bible verses about thankfulness, giving thanks or thanksgiving. WOW! The list of verses goes on and on.
Just a few Bible Verses about giving thanks:
- Colossians 4:2 Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving.
- Psalm 9:1 I will give thanks to you, Lord with all my heart. I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
- Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
- Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
There is a reason that God told us to give Him thanks, and researchers are backing it up! Happiness is directly connected with gratitude. What a kind God we serve to give us such an easy way to be happy.
I’m curious, has anyone else had gratitude make a difference in their mood homeostasis? Is anyone willing to try and see if it makes a difference for them?