An Attitude of Gratitude:
The Power of 'Thank You"
Happy November! The scent of pumpkin spiced lattes has already started to fill the air, freshly baked pies greet our noses, and colorful leaves gently fall to the ground reminding us how the change in seasons can so powerfully influence our mood. More specifically, an atmosphere of gratitude seems to surround us all.
There is much debate as to the actual origins of the holiday we celebrate today known as “Thanksgiving” (mostly between Canadians and Americans). The truth is, however, whether the first observance of Thanksgiving was in 1578 during the voyage of Martin Frobisher (in search of the Northwest Passage) or in 1621 via the traditions and customs of Pilgrims and Puritans from England once at Plymouth (present-day Massachusetts), one thing is certain; the holiday has become synonymous with gratitude. Everyone that celebrates has generally come to understand Thanksgiving as a time to reflect and appreciate every good thing surrounding each of our lives. Life can be trying, and often discussing any kind of silver lining can be difficult for some, but with a little bit of effort, we can still make a conscious choice to do so, even if it means allowing others to help us. And although this may be comforting to realize, it is actually important for us to do from time to time as our emotional, mental, and spiritual health is essential to being a happy, healthy, and whole person. Isn’t it wonderful that a holiday has been established that, in essence, assists us in taking care of ourselves?
There are many scientifically-proven benefits to gratitude. Independent studies in 2014 by Forbes, Time, and Emotion all unanimously found that people that said “thank you” more often had more successful and longer-lasting relationships, friendships and even held their jobs longer. People that showed gratitude more often slept better, had healthier appetites, experienced less chronic illnesses, were less stressed, and were significantly less likely to suffer depression. Other studies, including one by Harvard University, found that CEOs, supervisors, and managers of companies that hosted “thank you” brunches and gave out awards at ceremonial meetings for their employees increased their organization’s sales and revenue by over 50%. It is clear that people give their best when they feel like they are appreciated.
As Christians, this can be an especially exciting time, as it reminds us the tangible realness of God and the practical things He has done for us in our lives. Life gets crazy and often we don’t remember to schedule quality time to pray or remind ourselves just how good God has been to us. This holiday is an excellent opportunity to slow down a little and acknowledge that God is still there, still loves us, still cares for us, and still affirms His relationship with us.
“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.”
- Psalm 100 NIV
Prayer is a common approach to showing appreciation to God year round. Anytime we enter into prayer throughout the year, we are suggested in verse 4 to “Enter His gates with Thanksgiving and His courts with praise.” I often think, “What kind of mindset does it put me in to approach God with appreciation right from the start, before I bring anything else up to Him?” The truth is, God wants you to be transparent with Him in prayer and reminding yourself of all the good things that He has done for you reminds you in your approach that He is already on your side. He wants you to tell Him what hurts you, what you want, what you need, and what you don’t understand… regularly. It seems to me, that establishing an attitude of gratitude first sets the tone that you can have confidence that anything you submit to God will, in fact, be heard and received. It’s a great feeling.
“In that day you will say: “Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted.”
- Isaiah 12:4 NIV
There are many benefits to sharing our faith and our personal testimonies concerning what God has done for us individually. Sometimes in life, we can become so discouraged that we often wonder if God is still there and if He is still watching over or listening to us. It can be very encouraging to know that there are other people who have at one time or another felt the same way. Sharing an uplifting story may be just what someone needs to regain a hopeful perspective. I think, from time to time, we all could use a boost to be brought back to the basic foundations of our faith and the realness of God. Sharing our stories help. Ultimately, we all want to be reminded that we are not alone and if God can do something for you, I know that He would be willing to do something for me, and vice versa.
“For God does not show favoritism.”
- Romans 2:11 NIV
Don’t forget to tell someone that you appreciate them this Thanksgiving season. And also, don’t forget to remind yourself that you are highly valuable and the contributions you bring to all of us, and to the lives of everyone around you is priceless. There is only one you, and we would all miss you if you weren’t around, so don’t leave us! At PHOENIX MINISTRY, we are grateful for the person that you uniquely are; the person that God made you to be. Happy Thanksgiving, friend! Wishing you only God’s very best! <3