When November and Thanksgiving roll around many people will talk about things they are grateful for. But this annual ritual is not enough. If we are to enjoy the benefits of gratitude, then we need to know why gratitude is important every day.
You might be asking, “are there benefits to being grateful?” Yes, there are, and you won’t want to miss out on them.
** There is a gift at the end of this article to help you be grateful every day **
What is gratitude?
Gratitude is focusing on what we have rather than what we lack. But it is more than that.
Gratitude recognizes that many others contribute to our well-being, be it parents, spouses, teachers, God, or others.
- acknowledgment of something good
- a sense of indebtedness
Benefits of gratitude
It has long been known that thankful people are happier people. And who doesn’t want to be happy?
But there is more to gratitude than meets the eye.
Why gratitude is important for our physical health
Berkely education has studied hundreds of people. Their conclusion is that thankful people have:
- stronger immune systems
- less pain
- better blood pressure readings
- sleep better
- improved physical health
So if we need some improvement in our lives, being thankful every day is a good place to start.
Why gratitude is important for mental health
Harvard Health believes that there is a connection between gratitude and an individual’s well-being.
Gratitude changes our emotions and creates mindfulness. People who are grateful have less depression and more positive emotions.
Another extremely important benefit is that “Gratitude blocks toxic negative emotions.” (1)
Why gratitude is important in relationships
“Gratitude requires us to see how we’ve been supported and affirmed by other people.” (1)
Focussing on the contributions of others to our well-being is a type of praise and positive reinforcement which strengthens relationships.
And who doesn’t like to hear how something they did was a benefit to someone else? That person is much more likely to repeat the actions when they have been thanked for them.
In contrast, ingratitude tears down relationships. Why would people want to continue doing something when they think it is not appreciated? It is almost like a slap in the face.
Why gratitude is important to God?
The Bible has a lot to say about giving thanks. It is woven throughout Scripture.
But why is gratitude so important to God?
Gratitude strengthens our relationship with God
Much of our gratitude will be focused on God. Because of that, we begin to adore Him for who He is and His many blessings to us.
Then, as we thank God for all He does, we begin to see more of His work in our lives. Gratitude helps us trust God. It also helps us accept His direction in our lives, knowing that His plans for us are good.
Gratitude is a gift we give to God
We have received so many good things from God, many of which we take for granted. As we become more aware of God’s gifts, it is only natural to want to give back to Him.
Expressing our gratitude is one of the many ways to praise and worship God.
Gratitude is a way to keep our thoughts in check
We are warned in the Bible to keep our thoughts under control because they drive all of our emotions. What we think about is very important.
So when we focus on the many things we are grateful for, negative thoughts and emotions have a harder time controlling us.
“Finally … whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8 ESV
Why is it important to show gratitude?
Even when we are truly grateful for things others have done, unless we express it to them, it remains a secret. The other person never benefits from our gratitude and we also lose some of the benefits.
Showing gratitude is a habit we need to develop. It all begins in our minds and is further reinforced by our actions.
The benefits of speaking our gratitude
Being thankful begins as a thought in our minds. What happens next is a circle that can be repeated.
- Chemicals are released that make us feel good.
- Feeling good makes us want to think more positive thoughts.
- In order to speak our gratitude requires that our mouth and tongue muscles are involved.
- The sound of our words enters our ears and is transported back to our brain.
- Our brain translates the sound into thoughts again and the cycle repeats.
The benefits of writing our gratitude
Just like with most actions, writing begins with our minds. But this time our skeletal muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints are involved as well as our eyes.
- After the initial thoughts are formed and chemicals are released, nerve impulses are sent to our body.
- We gather what we need which involves walking and more thinking.
- In our minds, we decide exactly what we want to say.
- Our hands write a message as our eyes see the words.
- A message is sent from our eyes to the brain and becomes a thought again.
- When we have finished writing we must decide how the “Thank You” will be delivered.
All of these thoughts and actions are positive reinforcement. They cause a “snowball effect (2)”, and we enjoy more of the benefits of gratitude.
Final thoughts and a gift
Forming a habit of appreciation helps us understand why gratitude is important every day. The greater our gratitude, the more we understand how essential it really is.
But just like any habit, it takes time and effort to create. We must repeatedly and consciously practice thankfulness every day until it becomes automatic. Then we will enjoy the many benefits of a lifestyle of gratitude.
The following Bible verse card deck is a gift and is free to download, no email is required. It is a reminder that Gratitude is important every day.
- Greater Good from Berkeley Education
- Wikipedia – “a snowball effect is a process that starts from an initial state of small significance and builds upon itself, becoming larger … The common analogy is with the rolling of a snowball down a snow-covered hillside. As it rolls the ball will pick up more snow, gaining more mass and surface area, … as it rolls along.
- Harvard Health Education