What Gratitude Does For You

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. Many are gathering to celebrate with family, food, — and football. It’s right that we should take time to give God thanks for the good things we enjoy. Gratitude does not ignore problems, but it does change your perspective. Even scientific research shows that gratitude is good for you.

We could look at all the places where the Bible asks us to be grateful. But whether or not those scriptures mean much to you, it’s clear that our mental, physical, relational, and spiritual health are all improved with gratitude. Everything just works better when you’re grateful. Here are just three of the many ways that’s true.

  1. Better Personal Relationships

Don’t you like being around people who appreciate you? And if someone expresses real gratitude when you do something, aren’t you likely to invest time and energy in doing more of that? Your expressions of gratitude to someone else have that same power.

Your husband or wife is more likely to do more of whatever you truly express gratitude for. The same goes for your children, coworkers, boss, students, employees, or even casual acquaintances. Making a habit of expressing sincere gratitude brings joy to both you and others. If you want people to remember you, like you, and enjoy being with you, look for opportunities to say an honest Thank You!

  1. Better sleep

Many research studies show that gratitude helps you sleep better. People who are consistently grateful have less insomnia. People who think about things they are grateful for when they go to bed fall asleep quicker and experience more restorative sleep. People who struggle with insomnia can improve their sleep by spending 10-15 minutes writing down and thinking about things to be grateful for before bedtime.

So, falling asleep counting your blessings is not only a cliché; it’s documentably good for you.

  1. Better Mental Health

If there were a pill that would decrease depression and anxiety, cost nothing, and consistently provide lasting improvements in your mood and energy level, would you take it? Gratitude does exactly that. People who are grateful have less mental health symptoms.

You can train your mind to focus on good things. That’s a significant part of what Paul talks about in Philippians 4:8. Training your mind to be grateful does not mean ignoring problems. It does mean you daily embrace whatever is good, and focus the majority of your energy there. Some personality types find this easier than others, but everyone – YOU – can train your mind to be grateful.

Three Things

The Three Things exercise has been used in many research studies, and consistently leads to better psychological health and wellbeing in general. Even doing this for just two weeks has long-lasting benefits. (But why would you want to do this for only two weeks??)

Here’s how it works. Each day, intentionally set aside a few minutes to consider three things for which you can truly be grateful. Doing this right before bed is especially powerful; it helps your sleep! The things you mention should be recent, ideally things you experienced today. And you get extra points if you think of something you have not mentioned in the past. Write down your three things; it will make a bigger impact on your brain.

I encourage you to get out your journal right now, and write down today’s date. Then write at least three things for which you are grateful. (I do this on our podcast episode this week.)

And then do this again tomorrow. And the next day.

What are your three things?

Regardless of your circumstances, what three things can you express sincere gratitude for today? And we’d love to hear from you! Either in the comments below or on our Facebook page leave a note about your three things.

Now, today is Thanksgiving. Once you’ve done that, shut off the internet, put away your phone, and be truly present with your family. And it’s likely someone you know doesn’t have a family. Call them up and ask them to join you for Thanksgiving. What better way to express gratitude than to share with someone else?!

And don’t forget, if possible, to share your Three Things for today with your friends and family at Thanksgiving dinner.

P.S. I talk about these ideas more in our podcast episode this week. And in this episode I also share my Three Things for which I’m grateful for this Thanksgiving. You can listen here.

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