Month of November 2018
I recently read an article, The Science of Gratitude: The Power of Counting Our Blessings, by Dr. Emma Seppala who is a Peace Ambassador Training Faculty at Stanford University. In the article she wrote, “If we have a roof over our head, daily meals, are educated, have access to a computer and the internet, we have received more opportunities and education than most of the world's population. Research states we have three times more positive experiences than negative. But in life, we often fail to remember our blessings and give too much importance to our problems. Psychologists have found two reasons for this habit:
Negativity Bias - Research suggests our views are biased toward negativity, and in our minds, bad is stronger than good. We are more likely to pay attention to and recall negative situations, criticism or losses, than to remember positive events and praise. It sometimes can take hearing one word from someone for our whole day, which may have started out fine, to be ruined.
Why We Forget What's Right - Research states we have a boost of happiness when good things happen. But over time these events lose their ability to give us joy because we get used to them. So, we often fail to appreciate what we have. We tend to be grateful for it only once it is gone. Often a sickness helps us appreciate our health; losing heat in our homes reveals how blessed we are to have heaters. How can we overcome these mindsets? The secret is prayerful gratitude and research shows gratitude is beneficial for our health and happiness.
Think of a time we are feeling grateful. We may have received help from someone, or just touched by the beauty of the day. When we feel grateful, the Negativity Bias releases its grip. Rather than focusing on all the things going wrong, we remember the many blessings around us. When we are grateful for someone (our mother or spouse for their care), we experience renewed joy. Research has shown gratitude is linked to decreased envy and materialism. When we appreciate what we have, we are less insecure about what we don't have and may have less need for more. Studies have shown that in children and adults, gratitude has great benefits:
Gratitude increases social connection which is essential for health and well-being
Gratitude increases selflessness which is a strong predictor of happiness
Gratitude decreases depression, increases well-being, creativity and relationships.
Gratitude improves health and well-being for people suffering from physical ailments.
When the Negativity Bias occurs counting our blessings can help give us a reality check. If we are alive, chances are many things are working in our favor. There will always be difficult situations and plenty to complain about. But, we can either let these situations control our mind and spoil our day or take charge through prayer, renew our mind with Scripture and remember all that's right. Situations may not change, but we will. Thanksliving, cultivating gratitude is life changing. Here are two simple ways that can help transform your thinking.
Make Daily Gratitude Lists & Count Your Blessings: Whether you do so by writing lists, writing in a journal, or reflecting on your way home from work or school, bring to mind all of the people, things, achievements and places you are grateful for. Notice daily how God supports you: from the bus driver to the janitor at your place of work, the cash register worker to your best friend, each person, in some way, is helping you.
Express Your Gratitude to Those Around You: We often forget to tell the people closest to us how much we appreciate their support, help and affection. Take a few minutes out of each day to express your gratitude: write a letter to an old teacher or friend, send your mom flowers, or write your colleague a note. Say a daily prayer of gratitude to God each day for the many blessings you have been given.