Faith Teaches Us to Be Grateful

Faith Teaches Us to Be Grateful

Matthew Havertz

Faith Teaches Us to be grateful

I hate the “D” words: Discouragement, disappointment, dissatisfaction, depression. Like all of us, there are moments in my life where I feel stuck in a rut. It’s so easy to become unhappy with where I am or what I have. It’s “the grass is always greener on the other side” mentality.

Things really started to change for me after a religious conference I attended. A leader of my faith said, “Take an inventory of your life and look specifically for the blessings, large and small, you have received” (Thomas S. Monson, “Consider the Blessings”).

After hearing those words, I decided I would start a gratitude journal. In a little spiral notebook, I wrote down at least one thing I was grateful for every night. It started off being easy; I mentioned my family, living in America, and my faith. Soon I had to start getting more creative. As I kept doing it every night, I noticed a huge change in my happiness. I have come to realize that happiness and gratitude go hand in hand for me.

This is not a new concept. Religions around the world have taught us to be grateful for centuries.

In the Tanakh, Jewish scripture, it is written, “Come into His gates with thanksgiving, [into] His courtyards with praise; give thanks to Him, bless His name” (Tehillim 100:4).

In the New Testament, Paul wrote to his fellow Christians, “With thanksgiving let your request be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6).

The Quran teaches, “God always rewards gratitude and He knows everything” (Quran 4:147).

The Book of Mormon says, “Live in thanksgiving daily for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you” (Alma 34:38).

A Buddhist writing says, “Reverence, humility, contentment, gratitude, and the timely hearing of the Dhamma, the teaching of the Buddha — this is the highest blessing” (Maha-mangala Sutta: Blessings).

Believe it or not, scientific studies have even confirmed what religion has been teaching us for so long.

According to the Harvard Health Publications, two psychologists have conducted studies showing the positive effects of gratitude. “In one study, they asked all participants to write a few sentences each week, focusing on particular topics. One group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them, and the third wrote about events that had affected them” (Harvey B. Simon, “Giving thanks can make you happier”).

Ten weeks later, the group who wrote about what they were grateful for had much better attitudes, were more optimistic, and they even visited the doctor’s office less often (Harvey B. Simon, “Giving thanks can make you happier”).

If we all lived what our faith taught about gratitude, we would be much happier!

Matthew Havertz loves storytelling and has worked for years in the media industry, specializing in videos and social media. He has a degree in digital media from Weber State University. He blogs his spiritual thoughts at HavertzPonders.blogspot.com.

Five Ways Thankfulness Improves Spiritual, Mental and Physical Health

Five Ways Thankfulness Improves Spiritual, Mental and Physical Health

Laurie Campbell

Five ways thankfullness improves spiritual mental physical health

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to bring more gratitude and peace of mind into your life. It can last through the holidays and on into the new year. Studies have shown that being grateful improves mental health. And, because the spirit communicates through our heart and mind, thinking of blessings to be grateful for and carrying an attitude of gratitude increases spiritual connectedness.

Giacomo Bono, PhD, from Cal State found that “Gratitude played an important role in many areas of positive mental health of the teens in our study”. Gratitude helps in a multitude of ways, including the following:

1. Anxiety and depression can be diminished, to varying degrees. Thinking of the positives in life helps replace and relieve worry, stress, melancholy, and other negative emotions. Even when symptoms are severe, some relief can be found by making a conscious effort to consider whatever blessings can be counted and calling forth a sense of gratitude for them.

2. Optimism and overall life satisfaction improve. One study was performed by asking half of the participants to write down things they were grateful for and the other group wrote down irritations. After 10 weeks, the grateful group felt more optimistic and better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also had fewer doctor visits.

3. An increase in gratitude, optimism, and physical health are connected. As Lisa Aspinwall, PhD, from the University of Utah observed, “There are some very interesting studies linking optimism to better immune function.” In addition, the people who were more grateful were also more likely to exercise.

4. Negative events can be perceived and experienced more positively. For instance, if someone is injured in an accident, there are difficult challenges. However, gratitude that injuries weren’t more severe can actually help increase the rate of healing and the overall outcome. Researchers discovered that the people who suffered a heart attack and felt grateful to still be alive found gains from the experience and were less likely to suffer another heart attack than those who didn’t feel grateful.

5. Raise your “set-point” to increase overall happiness. Genetics plays an important role in happiness, or the lack thereof. It has been found that people have a certain set point of happiness, which is the level of happiness they return to, in time, after good or bad events occur. Research has also shown that this set point can be raised with an increase in gratitude.

Think of Thanksgiving as a daily activity throughout the year, as well as a sacred holiday. Write down the positives, or at least take time to honor them by counting your blessings and feeling gratitude for them. Pray and/or meditate upon them. This will lift your spirits, along with your mind and your body.

Laurie Campbell has a masters degree in mental health counseling, not to mention a “doctorate,” of sorts, in repentance because of the many mistakes and challenges she has faced. She is deeply grateful for a patient and loving Father in Heaven.

Let Gratitude Be Your Superpower

Let Gratitude Be Your Superpower

By Linda Clyde, Faith Counts Contributor

gratitude2

Sometimes Gratitude Shows Up Late

Like anyone, I’ve had times in my life when it was hard to be grateful: like the eight or nine months as a poor newlywed living in an ancient camping trailer, in a blustery RV park, surrounded by sand—nearly every morning we woke up with sand in our teeth; or the time I sat helpless in the hospital next to my concussed 11-year-old after she suffered a terrible accident at recess; or when I went through a faith crisis and began to deeply question my religious beliefs. Gratitude doesn’t always come easy; in my case it has shown up months and even years later.

Gratitude Can Take You Places

Life has its lean times, physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. But by remembering that the lean times are opportunities for learning, growth, and development, it becomes easier to feel grateful.

Gratitude can also be an incredible tool for life, if you’re able to keep pride from getting in the way. Gratitude is a launching pad for future growth. For example, if you lost your job, would you spend time being angry at the company or person that let you go, or would you focus on being grateful for what you learned during your employment? The first approach is a solid dead end; but the second approach can really lead somewhere.

The Superpower of Gratitude

We’ve all been around thankless, pessimistic folks. It’s hard to walk away from an encounter with an ungrateful person without feeling a subtle emptiness, like they’ve taken something from you. But if ingratitude and thanklessness leaves us feeling empty and closed off, we can be sure that gratitude and a thankful heart are their shining, glorious opposites. Consider the following:

  • Gratitude is attractive. People, who express gratitude for the simple things, like majestic sunsets or their love and appreciation for others are emotionally and spiritually attractive and they’re just plain nice to be around.
  • Gratitude strengthens faith. Being grateful has a way of opening up your heart and mind to the goodness surrounding you. It’s a positive, optimistic force that helps you believe that things will always work out for the best. Trusting that there’s a higher power out there that wishes only to bless you and strengthen you, can go a long way in building faith that lasts.
  • Gratitude is disarming. When someone is angry, expressing gratitude and appreciation for them can take the edge off of their anger, validate their feelings, and help them calm down.
  • Gratitude can serve as a reset button. When you’re hung up on the challenges and injustices of life, gratitude can help you refocus on what’s really important.
  • Gratitude gets easier. Like anything, finding things to be grateful for can become second nature when you practice.
  • Gratitude makes you more receptive to goodness. A focus on gratitude can help you suddenly appreciate things you haven’t noticed before: your best friend’s contagious smile, the happy wag of your dog’s tail, a refreshing rainstorm—anything! Goodness is everywhere.
  • Gratitude helps others see the bright side too. Your optimistic example of pointing out goodness can go a long way for everyone in your circles. Don’t hold back; talk about what makes you laugh, all the things you like, or just good things that happened to you throughout the day. You’re sure to lift someone and make them smile.

Better Late Than Never

I now look back with gratitude for the sand in my teeth because the love of my life was right there with me—and he had sand in his teeth too. I look at my happy, healthy daughter and my heart thrills that she’s still with me, and leading a normal life. Each week I attend my local congregation and I’m thankful for the wonderful gift of being able to choose what I believe. Over time I’ve learned that there’s something special to cherish in every moment and that learning to be grateful is a lot like having an emotional superpower.

Linda Clyde is passionate about faith and the power it has to brighten lives. She’s a wife, mother, writer, beautician, and above all, a believer. Contact her at colossalthought@gmail.com