Compiled by Christine Darg
According to the Hebrew for Christians website, gratitude is essential to the life of faith. We read in the Torah: “You shall bless the LORD your God for the good” (Deut. 8:10). Whenever we derive benefit or enjoyment from something, we are to bless (i.e., thank) God for his goodness. The Hebrew for gratitude is “hakarat tovah” (הַכָּרַת טוֹבָה), a phrase meaning “recognizing the good.”
Did you know that the Thanksgiving attitude of gratitude year-round can vastly improve your health?
I read a very edifying Thanksgiving message from Dr. Joseph Mecola who has done a lot of research to the effect that persons who are genuinely thankful for what they have are better able to cope with stress. They are happier, and better able to reach their goals.
Dr. Mercola reported that scientists have even noted that gratitude is associated with improved health. As noted by Harvard Health Publishing, expressing thanks may be one of the simplest ways to feel better: “The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness (depending on the context). In some ways gratitude encompasses all of these meanings. Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible.
With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. In the process, people usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves. As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals — whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.
… People feel and express gratitude in multiple ways. They can apply it to the past (retrieving positive memories and being thankful for elements of childhood or past blessings), the present (not taking good fortune for granted as it comes), and the future (maintaining a hopeful and optimistic attitude).
Regardless of the inherent or current level of someone’s gratitude, it’s a quality that individuals can successfully cultivate further.”
Furthermore as noted in an ABC News article, studies have shown that gratitude can produce a number of measurable effects on a number of systems in your body, including:
Mood neurotransmitters (serotonin and norepinephrine)
Inflammatory and immune systems (cytokines)
Reproductive hormones (testosterone)
Stress hormones (cortisol)
Social bonding hormones (oxytocin)
Blood pressure and cardiac and EEG rhythms
Cognitive and pleasure related neurotransmitters (dopamine)
Ways to grow gratitude:
Write thank-you notes — Whether in response to a gift or kind act, or simply as a show of gratitude for someone being in your life, getting into the habit of writing thank-you letters can help you express gratitude in addition to simply feeling it inside.
Count your blessings — Once a week, reflect on events for which you are grateful, and write them down. As you do, feel the sensations of happiness and thankfulness you felt at the time it happened, going over it again in your mind.
Pray — Expressing thanks during your prayers is another way to cultivate gratitude.
Remember to say “thank you” — It’s wonderful to see a person smile, and even more wonderful knowing that you are the reason behind it! And with that, I wish you all a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!