Fresh from celebrating Thanksgiving comes the news that being grateful makes people happier and healthier. Counting blessings is good-and good for you.
According to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, researchers have found that "adults who frequently feel grateful have more energy, more optimism, more social connections and more happiness than those who do not. . . . They're also less likely to be depressed, envious, greedy or alcoholics. They earn more money, sleep more soundly, exercise more regularly and have greater resistance to viral infections."
Could it be that those people simply have more for which to be grateful? A study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2003 seems to indicate that it's the act of counting blessings that makes the difference. Researchers divided people into three groups. Over a period of 10 weeks, one group had to list five things per week for which they were grateful, another kept track of five things they found annoying each week, and the third just listed things that had happened in their lives. The results? "Those who listed blessings each week had fewer health complaints, exercised more regularly and felt better about their lives in general than the other two groups," the Journal reported.
Dr. Robert Emmons, a professor of psychology at the University of California-Davis, was one of the leading researchers in that study. He's quoted as saying that the act of feeling gratitude requires "self-reflection, the ability to admit that one is dependent upon the help of others, and the humility to realize one's own limitations."
As Christians, we are frequently exhorted and reminded to be thankful-not just in general, but specifically to God. Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." Who knew we'd benefit from thanking God?