During the month of November, we often are encouraged to express what we are thankful for in our lives.
You hear phrases like be thankful, show gratitude, have an attitude of gratitude. But gratitude is not something seasonal, nor should it be something we stumble upon or demonstrate out of a sense of duty.
Once again let's make sure we define the terms we so glibly throw around.
Merriam-Webster's definition of . . .
thankful: conscious of benefit received, expressive of thanks, well pleased.
Grateful: appreciative of benefits received, affording pleasure or contentment, pleasing by reason of comfort supplied or discomfort alleviated.
Gratitude: the state of being grateful, a feeling off appreciation.
Our Creator was once again a marvelous designer and engineer. All cultures and religions encourage embracing gratitude. Gratitude is present regardless of and irrelevant to an outcome or promise of an outcome, whereas gratefulness is tied to and requires an event or object.
Neuroscience has shown that gratitude has seven benefits:
UCLA's Mindfulness Awareness Research Center showed that regularly expressing gratitude literally changes the molecular structure of the brain by increasing neural pathways (defined as emotions). It has been shown the brain stem releases dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin when a habit of gratitude is adopted; as well as, people who practice gratitude have larger gray matter in their brains.
Dopamine contributes to feelings of pleasure and satisfaction as part of the reward system.
Serotonin stabilizes mood, feelings of well-being, and happiness. Helps with digestion and sleep.
Oxytocin called the feel good hormone, promotes feelings of love, social bonding, and well-being.
Gratitude enhances happiness, not the other way around.
Alex Korb, Ph. D. Author of Upward Spiral professes:
Gratitude boost dopamine which acts as antidepressant
Circumstances we should give God thanks:
For what He has done, things we have made it through because of God's providence
For what He is doing, things we are overcoming because of God's presence in our lives.
For what God is going to do, things we are destined to do because of God's promises in His word to us individually and to mankind in general. Mark Gibbs, Paraklesis Ministries.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.' Melody Beattie “ The Difference Between Gratitude and Thankfulness, PsychiatricMedical Care Susan Rhoads, LCSW.
Philippians 4: 11-12 AMP Not that I speak from [any personal] need, for I have learned to be content [and self-sufficient through Christ, satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or uneasy] regardless of my circumstances. I know how to get along and live humbly [in difficult times], and I also know how to enjoy abundance and live in prosperity. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret [of facing life], whether well-fed or going hungry, whether having an abundance or being in need.
Matthew 6: 33 AMP But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also.
Matthew 6: 21 AMP for where your treasure is, there your heart [your wishes, your desires; that on which your life centers] will be also.
1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 MSG Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.