JOY AND THANKFULNESS

Shawn Achor, a psychologist who teaches at Harvard, suggests that we can train our brains to become more grateful by setting aside just five minutes a day for practicing gratitude. He cites a one-week study in which people were asked to take five minutes a day, at the same time every day, to write down three things they were thankful for. They didn’t have to be big things, but they had to be concrete and specific, such as, “I’m thankful for the delicious Thai take-out dinner I had last night.” Or, “I’m thankful that my daughter gave me a hug.” Or, “I’m thankful that my boss complimented my work.” The participants simply expressed thanks for three specific things at the same time every day.

At the end of one month, the researchers followed up and found that those who practiced gratitude—including those who stopped the exercise after one week—were happier and less depressed. Remarkably, after three months, the participants who had been part of the one-week experiment were still more joyful and content. Incredibly, after the six-month mark, they were still happier, less anxious, and less depressed. The researchers hypothesized that the simple practice of writing down three thanksgivings a day over the course of a week primed the participants’ minds to search for the good in their lives.

While the outcome of the study may have shocked the researchers it shouldn’t be that startling to Christians. The Bible is full of examples of thankfulness and challenges us to live that way every day. This Sunday we take a look at how the simple act of being thankful can anchor our souls in the roughest of waves.

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