Having a Grateful Heart

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Do you ever feel the “blues” after the rush of Christmas is over? If so, you’re not alone.


We may be reminded of a loss or disappointment. Maybe our holiday gathering is less than we hoped for, or perhaps others seem to have a much better situation than we do. Any of these things can lead to feeling discouraged. So how can we get ourselves out of these emotional ditches?

Focus on the Family magazine offered some great ways to practice gratefulness in their recent article "Giving Thanks."


Some of the latest research in the field of psychology indicates that a grateful heart is one of the most important keys to happiness and overall health. According to Dr. Robert Emmons, people who consistently practice gratitude experience a long list of personal benefits. Physically, they have stronger immune systems, better sleep patterns, lower blood pressure, and less aches and pains. Psychologically, they’re more alert, display higher levels of positive emotions, and get more joy out of life. Socially, they’re more outgoing, more forgiving and compassionate, and report far fewer feelings of loneliness and isolation. How can we become the kind of people whose natural tendency is to give thanks in every situation? Dr. Emmons and author Jim Collins offer the following suggestions:

•  Keep a gratitude journal.
Writing things down is a great way to make them more memorable and more accessible to the conscious mind.

• Practice counting your blessings.
Make it a habit to count your blessings on a regular basis. Just tick them off on your fingers before going to bed at night.

• Use concrete reminders.
Come up with something tangible that you can do every day as a way of directing your thoughts towards the many blessings God has poured out on you. For example, write 1 Thessalonians 5:18 on a card where you can see it: “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will…”

• Think outside the box. 
There’s always something positive to be gleaned from every circumstance, no matter how bleak it seems on the outside.

• Window vs. Mirror.
When life misfires, grateful people “look in the mirror” and ask themselves, “What can I learn from this?” When things turn out well, they “look through the window” and give credit where credit is due – to the miraculous grace of God and to the many other people who have helped them achieve their goals.

If you can make these four practices a regular part of your weekly routine, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a genuinely grateful person.



18 December, 2017 - Focus on the Family: Thriving Pastor "Giving Thanks"  

Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2002). The Grateful Disposition: A Conceptual and Empirical TopographyJournal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82 (1), 112-117.
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