Thanksgiving is inspiring, isn’t it? There’s something about this particular holiday that causes us to reflect on what’s really important and brings a fresh perspective into our lives.
But as we all know, that warm and fuzzy feeling doesn’t last forever.
Too often, we treat gratitude as a holiday ornament that we pull from the attic when we’re ready to decorate. After the festivities are over, we pack it away and get back to the daily grind of life.
But when we do this, we miss out on all the amazing benefits of gratefulness.
Arrogance and ungratefulness go hand and hand. But the opposite is also true
To help us maintain a spirit of appreciation all year long, I’ve created a list of some of the unbeatable benefits of gratitude. Here are the top 10 reasons I’m thankful for thankfulness.
1. Thankfulness improves relationships.
Everyone has a need and desire to be appreciated—spouses, children, parents, friends, coworkers, even the strangers we meet in passing. Oprah once said, "The common denominator that I've found in every single interview is that we all want to be validated. We want to be understood.” So when we express gratitude for people, we not only meet their needs and lift their spirits, but we make them feel validated. And that improves the quality of our relationships with them.
2. Thankfulness creates contentment.
Media messages are constantly telling us to buy more, do more, look like this, or act like that. With so much distraction, it can be difficult to appreciate what you have right now. But by choosing to be thankful, you can ignore these messages and embrace contentment. As my friend Rachel Cruze says, “In a heart filled with gratitude, there is no room for discontentment.”
3. Thankfulness feels good.
You know how happy we feel around Thanksgiving? We can continue to feel that way long after the turkey and dressing are gone. How? All we have to do is count our blessings and turn our hearts and thoughts toward gratitude. The warm and fuzzy feelings will follow.
4. Thankfulness keeps us healthy.
Even though the holidays represent a stressful time for many of us, reflecting on what we’re thankful for actually reduces stress. "Gratitude research is beginning to suggest that feelings of thankfulness have tremendous positive value in helping people cope with daily problems, especially stress," says University of California Davis psychology professor Robert Emmons. He goes on to explain that gratitude and optimism can even boost our immune system. When we stop focusing on what we don’t have, and begin focusing on everything we do have, our shoulders relax and we invite peace, patience, and health into our lives.
5. Thankfulness cultivates humility.
Arrogance and ungratefulness go hand and hand. But the opposite is also true. When we choose to be thankful for the big and small blessings in our lives, we foster a heart of humility and a spirit of graciousness.
6. Thankfulness is contagious.
Just as fear and worry are contagious, so is the spread of gratitude. When we’re inspired by others’ gratefulness, it prompts our own grateful thoughts and actions as well. We can be the catalysts that spread gratitude in our homes, offices and communities.
7. Thankfulness produces positivity.
When we’re thankful, the natural byproduct is that we become more positive people. There are endless daily annoyances that can bring us down and steal our joy. But when we’re intentionally thankful, it naturally redirects our thoughts to see the good in other people and in our everyday lives.
8. Thankfulness promotes generosity.
It’s tough to be givers when our eyes are always on our own needs. When we are thankful for what we have, we can hold our blessings with an open hand and freely give to others. And when we realize how abundantly we are blessed, we can confidently and joyfully become a blessing to others.
9. Thankfulness increases likability.
It’s fair to say no one wants to be around an ungrateful, entitled individual. Yet we all enjoy spending time with grateful, down-to-earth folks. When you are grateful, people see you in a positive light and they naturally like you and want to be around you.
10. Thankfulness displays God’s character.
The Bible is full of passages on gratitude and thankfulness. It’s used in commands, parables, and prayers. This quality is important to God! So when we actively practice gratefulness, we become more of who God created us to be. Plus, we also get to connect with Him through our thankful thoughts and prayers. Unlike talent, gratitude is something that’s freely available to all of us and completely within our control. It’s not a special “gifting” that some people have and others don’t. It’s not a feeling that floats through the air at the end of each November.
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It’s a choice.
Every day we get to choose to be thankful and to experience the side benefits of gratefulness all year long.
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